Suffolk declares state of emergency; Southold not expected to yet

01/23/2016 10:25 AM |

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During separate press conferences Saturday morning, both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the county, following news that the North Shore and East End of Long Island are expected to get 12 to 18 inches of snow and the South Shore 18 to 24 inches.

With the East End expected to get less snow than western parts of the county, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell has decided to take a “wait and see” approach and see how the storm progresses before making anything official for the Town of Southold. As of 7:30 p.m. Saturday, one had not been called.

“The storm is wreaking havoc to the west of us,” Mr. Russell said. “It’s still a major event here, but we are faring better than those towns.”

Mr. Bellone said winds are blowing up to 45 miles per hour and snow is falling at a rate of one to three inches each hour.

A state of emergency alerts citizens to change their normal behavior and makes government agencies implement their emergency plans.

The announcement allows Suffolk to call for additional assistance from the state and enter into certain agreements for removing snow from roadways and adding vehicles and equipment to its fleet, a county spokesperson said.

It doesn’t ban people from driving, though Mr. Bellone urged everyone to stay indoors and off the roads. Additionally, Mr. Russell said the Southold Town Transfer Station will have a delayed opening at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Southold Town Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando said town vehicles were out around 8 a.m. salting the roads, and plows have recently gone out throughout the town.

Mr. Russell said one of the biggest concerns is the high tide, which is starting to come in. He said so far the shores are OK.

Mr. Cuomo agreed, saying that the state is “keeping an eye on what we consider the worst of Mother Nature’s wrath, which is flooding conditions, especially in New York City and Long Island.”

Winds, which are expected to reach up to 45 miles per hour, are also a big concern for Southold Town.

Additionally, Mr. Russell described the roads as “very slick,” but said there aren’t many cars on the road, as people take the storm seriously and stay indoors, something he commended and advised everyone to do.

“Not to sound repetitive, but stay in, stay in, stay in, so we can get done what we need to get done,” he said.

Mr. Orlando echoed that sentiment, asking people to stay off the “slippery” roads if they don’t need to be driving, so the highway department can get its job done “faster and safer.”

For the most part, it’s just a matter of sitting tight and waiting out the storm, officials said.

“[The roads are] dangerous, treacherous,” the county executive said at a press conference in Yaphank this morning. “Conditions of significant accumulation and high winds are creating blizzardlike conditions.”

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said there have been 60 calls made so far regarding the snow and storm conditions. There have also been seven motor vehicle accidents, none with serious injuries. Mr. Bellone said call volumes are minimal as of 8 a.m. this morning. Same for power outages, according to information from PSEG.

Due to the weather, 275 county plows are on the roads, as they have been since midnight. More are expected to be out later, Mr. Bellone said. He said temperatures are expected to increase in the next few days, which makes clearing the storm easier and makes it “safer for all residents.”

“I want to thank all plow operators and personnel in the Department of Public Works for the work they do and what they’re doing out there,” Mr. Bellone said during the press conference. “It’s difficult work and hard work and they’re doing it on very little sleep. They’re working to keep our roads and our community safe.”

Mr. Cuomo said in a press conference Saturday morning that “everything that can be done has been done,” including fully deploying the National Guard, using hundreds of pieces of equipment on the roads, and dispatching state police.

Additionally, Suffolk County Transit is closed for the day. Mr. Bellone encouraged Suffolk residents to sign up for the County’s code red emergency notification system at suffolkcountyny.gov and to check his Facebook page for further updates.

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Caption: Snowfall was light in Greenport this morning as of 8:30 a.m. (Credit: Sonja Reinholt-Derr)

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