Days After Storm, Still No Snowplows on Parts of L.I.

By Greg Cergol and Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013  |  Updated 6:44 AM EDT
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Some Long Island residents say they've been stranded in their homes for days while waiting for snowplows to clear their streets. And officials aren't returning their calls. Greg Cergol reports.

NBC 4 New York

Some Long Island residents say they've been stranded in their homes for days while waiting for snowplows to clear their streets. And officials aren't returning their calls. Greg Cergol reports.

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Frustrated Long Island residents, stranded in their homes by Friday's blizzard, spent Monday calling local town officials and begging for plows to dig them out.

In Centereach, neighbors have taken matters into their own hands, pushing vehicles out of the streets, and using shovels and snowblowers to clear the streets on their own. 

"For the last three days, we've been pushing people out and digging people out," said Steve Reinhardt. 

Walter Doroski, who's been helping push cars through the icy, snowy mess on Wood Drive, said: "It's been horrible. This is the worst it's ever been, we haven't seen a plow truck at all." 

On Dean Street in Port Jefferson Station, a man slipped on the icy road while trying to help push a friend's car. That man needed an ambulance but help could not make it up the road. 

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"The ambulance couldn't pass, so they had to come on a sled and just put him on there and drag him away," said witness Elinson Taveres. 

Clay Darrohn, a father of two in Nesconset, was stuck in his home for three days and his calls to Smithtown officials went unanswered. His wife needed to make a business trip to Chicago and was eventually forced to trudge through knee-deep snow to a friend's waiting car at the end of her street.

Others living on Commander Vic Lane also tried and failed to bring help.

"I am so mad, I can't tell you. It's crazy," said neighbor Ira Jacobs.

Jacobs and his neighbors cleared part of the street using snowblowers. Shortly after NBC 4 New York called, Smithtown plows were finally seen in the streets.

The arrival of the first plow was greeted by jeers from Jacobs.

"Where have you been for three days?" he asked.

Similar questions were being asked in Suffolk communities like Setauket and Ronkonkoma, still buried under nearly 3 feet of snow.

Watching and waiting for a way off the snow-covered street was Fran Gucciardo, a woman in her 80s who relies on oxygen because of a rare pulmonary disease. Gucciardo has been unable to get to her doctor or physical therapy since the storm.

"These people are saving my life," Gucciardo said of her neighbors.

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"I understand this was an unusual storm, but there was plenty of time to prepare for it," Gucciardo added.

Shortly after NBC 4 New York spoke to Brookhaven officials about Starfire Lane, plows finally arrived on that street as well.

"I won't sleep until every street is cleared," said Brookhaven deputy supervisor Dan Panico.

According to Panico, the storm overwhelmed town plowing operations across Suffolk.

The depth of the snow was too much for regular plows, Panico said, so work was delayed until heavy equipment could be brought in from other areas.

"I understand the frustration," Panico said. "I am frustrated, too."

Panico is overseeing cleanup operations in Brookhaven because town supervisor Ed Romaine is away on vacation and the town's acting highway superintendent is sick, a town spokesman confirmed.

Romaine's office said his trip was planned far in advance of the storm.

But Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld said, "If you knew it was headed toward your township, would you make the decision to change your plans and stay and marshal forces to help residents, or would you go on vacation?" 

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