Fewer employees, an aging fleet of trucks and equipment and record snowfall proved to be the perfect storm for Islip Town officials as they worked to clear streets in parts of the Sachem community during this past weekend's blizzard.
Supervisor Tom Croci said that while most Town roads were passable 36 hours to 48 hours after the storm, some areas such as neighborhoods north of Sunrise Highway and the hilly sections of Ronkonkoma could not be reached until Monday night.
"A lot of the snow required heavy equipment as (some) plows sent out during the storm were too light to deal with the weight of the wet snow," Croci said. "We don't see snowfall like this very often."
The more than 125 town crews and 200 hired contractors that took to Town roads Friday evening into Saturday morning had difficulties pushing the snow, with several breaking down under the weight snow falling at five inches to six inches per hour.
Croci said the Town's "older and aging" equipment was not adequate to tackle the record snowfall. The average piece of equipment is 17 years old, he said.
"The former administration never made the investment in fleet replenishment that you need," he said.
New York State Department of Transportation and the MTA eventually sent reinforcements to Islip, as 10-wheel trucks with plows and bucket loaders arrived on Sunday.
In addition, Croci said fewer Town employees after years of budget cuts and layoffs also posed a logistical problem to quick snow removal after the blizzard. Islip's Department of Public Works has 114 employees, which includes administrative staffing.
"The former administration reduced the Department of Public Works by 100 employees. During a hurricane and blizzard, you wish you had every single one of them back," Croci said.
The supervisor is urging residents to move their cars off the street before the snowfall forecast for Wednesday night, especially if they want curb-to-curb clearance. Croci said there is a Town code that prohibits residents from parking cars on the street from Dec. 15 - March.
He suggested residents without sufficient driveway or off-road space reach out to neighbors or consider parking vehicles in a nearby shopping center to help the Town's efforts to clear local roadways.