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Winds, Downed Trees Complicate Blizzard Response in Brookhaven

Town has been plowing roads since 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Plowing continues throughout the Town of Brookhaven as of Monday afternoon, but officials say winds nearing 70 miles per hour have hampered efforts to clear the roads of snow.

Highway superintendent John Rouse said not only has the wind blown snow back into the streets, giving the appearance that plowing crews have skipped some roads, but it has also downed several dozen trees throughout the town.

"Every storm is just like a snow flake. Every one is different," he said. "But the story behind this storm is the wind that came with it."

At the height of the blizzard on Sunday, Rouse said nearly 550 plows and other snow removal apparatus were deployed throughout the town, Long Island's largest municipality. He said trucks were equipped with plows before town employees left for the holiday, and snow removal began around 10:30 Sunday morning.

Rouse also said some severe high tides initially prevented crews from accessing some coastal roadways and have since left some of those roads dangerously icy.

"You name it, mother nature threw it at us," he said.

He also urged residents to park their cars in their driveways, calling cars left in the streets the number one obstacle in the way of proper snow removal.

"Oftentimes it prevents us from getting bigger, more efficient equipment onto some of the streets," Rouse said.

According to an alert on the town website, trash pickup in Brookhaven was suspended Monday, and will resume on Tuesday.

Rouse could not yet provide an estimate of how much money the town has spent controlling the effects of the blizzard.

Dan Aug, a spokesman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, said only two of the county's bus lines, the S97 and 8A routes, were able to operate with any consistency on Monday morning, but as of 1:30 p.m. the bus system was 99 percent operational.

However, Aug said, slick conditions on steep roadways have forced bus detours in areas like Port Jefferson, Sound Beach, Rocky Point, Gordon Heights, and Baiting Hollow.

Officials said between Sunday morning and noontime on Monday, around 245 phone calls were made to 911 in Suffolk reporting storm-related crashes, with no fatalities or major injuries.

"This is not a dramatically high number, considering the storm," Aug said.

According to Joe Williams, commissioner of fire rescue and emergency services in Suffolk, around 9,000 people in Suffolk were without power at the height of the storm, but that number was down to 2,000 as of about 2 p.m.

"If this was a summertime storm, it could have been a Category 3 hurricane," he said. "This was a fast-moving storm but it was a major, major storm."

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