As blizzard looms, new highway supe in for early test

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando during his swearing in ceremony on Thursday.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando during his swearing in ceremony on Thursday.

Less than an hour after being sworn in, new Highway Department Superintendent Vincent Orlando was already in his first emergency preparedness meeting in his new capacity.

“Let’s hurry up,” he joked at the swearing in ceremony on Thursday morning. “I got work to do.”

With about 10 inches of snow forecast to fall on the North Fork Thursday night into Friday and a blizzard warning in effect, Mr. Orlando will face his first big test as head of the department, which sports two dozen plows and a dozen sanders.

Luckily for residents, however, the snowfall won’t be entirely new ground for Mr. Orlando, as former Highway Department Superintendent Pete Harris opened his door to Mr. Orlando in the final months of his tenure, allowing him to get a feel for how the department runs.

“It’s been a great transition. We’ve really been able to hit the ground running” Mr. Orlando said on Thursday. “With their help, it’s been really nice.”

While the National Weather Service website warns that anywhere from five to nine inches could come tonight, with another one two two inches tomorrow, NWS meteorologist Joe Pollina said that the East End is likely to fall on the higher end of the range.

“The twin forks, and Riverhead area, will likely be closer to the 10-inch range, with western Suffolk closer to eight inches,” he said. Mr. Pollina added that the bulk of snow should arrive after midnight, with minor accumulation after sunrise.

Mr. Orlando, a former town councilman, also pointed to the aid of deputy superintendent Curt Davids — who served under Mr. Harris and will remain in his post — as integral to helping him move into his current role. Mr. Orlando won the post in November, defeating Democrat Tobie Wesnofske with 55 percent of the vote.

“The last few storms we’ve had, I’ve been here for,” he said. “So it’s not so shocking today … we’ll prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”

Mr. Orlando wasn’t the only one getting ready for snow on Thursday, however.

Waldbaums customer service clerk Pat Doucet said the Mattituck store seemed pretty busy, with plenty of people heading into pick up some necessities before the storm.

Mary Anne Coe of Mattituck said she was doing the grocery shopping, while her husband “took care of everything else.”

“I just bought some bread and milk, and he went to get gas for the snow blower and generator,” Ms. Coe said, adding that she hoped the North Fork was greeted with a lot of snow tomorrow morning.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A shopper fills up at Waldbaum's on Thursday afternoon.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A shopper fills up at Waldbaum’s on Thursday afternoon.

“My kids like to go out in the snow,” she said.

While loading her car, June Bassemir of Jamesport said “it’s really a different type of day for me. I am converting from oil to gas today, and will only have the wood burning stove to keep warm.”

That means wood was at the top of her list, of which she said she had just bought two bundles from the grocery store, along with a few other essentials.

“I just got the last whole milk that was in there,” Ms. Bassemir said, adding that she was going home to bake a fresh loaf of “almost” homemade bread, “its cheating a bit, the ingredients comes mixed in the box,” she said.

When asked how he was getting ready for the storm, Arthur Kretschmer of Mattituck said “I’m not. It’s not 1840 anymore,” he laughed.

Mr. Kretschmer was taking care of two boys, Noah and Christian, who were dressed for the weather in camouflage facemasks and brightly colored jackets.

When asked how they were preparing for the storm, the two said in unison “What storm?”