02/15/13 2:00am
02/15/2013 2:00 AM
George Woodson of Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Highway Superintendent George Woodson uses heavy equipment to clear Marcy Avenue at 4:30 Saturday.

Despite the unique challenges every big storm poses, Riverhead Town Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson has pretty much seen it all. No career politician, Mr. Woodson is a career highway worker with over two decades of experience as a town employee.

His expertise and work ethic show during every major weather event, when he rolls up his sleeves and takes to the roads himself.

He leads by example, which motivates workers and, in the end, means safer roads for residents. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not tip our hats to all the highway workers, too. The department has been operating at historically low staffing levels in recent years, yet it continues to impress taxpayers with its performance every time.

As Mr. Woodson notes in our coverage of the road-clearing efforts, there are no alternating teams for Riverhead Town highway workers, as is the case with the state. They’re all out there, all the time, save for two or three hours’ sleep here and there overnight or during white-out conditions.

In contrast, the performance of the state Department of Transportation (though not its workers themselves) was disappointing at best. The state seems to have no ability to turn up the volume and beef up snow removal staffing when it comes to the largest storms.

On Friday and Saturday, officials said, the DOT had three trucks assigned to cover Route 25 from Riverhead all the way to Orient, and another two trucks assigned to Route 24 in Southampton Town. That might be enough for a regular snowfall, but not a historic blizzard.

The lack of state resources was evident on our state roads. Route 24 was a deathtrap into Saturday night. And Routes 25 and 25A in Calverton and Wading River remained largely impassable for more than 48 hours.

All the while, other main roads in Riverhead Town were mostly clear, save for some snow blowing from farm fields.

Town and county officials have been mostly polite in their public comments about the state DOT, while rightfully criticizing residents for leaving cars on roads and being out when they shouldn’t have been. But the time for delicacy with the DOT is over.

Highway superintendents from across the county should demand changes in the way state roads are cleared.

Otherwise, it’s just a matter of time before something tragic happens.

02/12/13 12:00pm
02/12/2013 12:00 PM

As the Blizzard of 2013 overtook the North Fork, thieves took to a gas station in Wading River, where they broke into the on-site shop and stole cash, Newport cigarettes and Dutch Master cigars, Riverhead Town Police said.

Sometime between 5 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday, an unknown person or people broke into the gas station on Wading River-Manor Road through a door, and stole at least $150 from a register drawer that was left open, police said.

They also stole about 15 packs on Newports, a dozen Dutch Masters, along with an unknown quantity of rolling paper, police said. There was no video surveillance in operation at the time, police said.

Detectives are investigating.

02/11/13 6:45am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The snow that filled the streets of Riverhead Saturday will be replaced with heavy rain Monday.

A freezing rain advisory has been lifted for Long Island Monday morning, but the rain should continue on the East End into the evening, according to the National Weather Service in Upton.

“It doesn’t look to be as significant as the last system that moved through here,” said Joe Picca, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Upton.

Some roads already prone to flooding might see large puddles from Monday’s rain, but there is little threat of “significant” flooding, Mr. Picca said.

The wet weather is not the only  factor in what could be a tricky morning commute Monday, as roads remain icy and plows work to continue clearing roadways.

The view from the overpass at Exit 73 in Riverhead showed a clear road Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t until 7 a.m. Monday that traffic was fully open in both directions.

Route 25 is in decent shape across the North Fork.

02/11/13 2:29am
FILE PHOTO | Check back here for school closing updates.

FILE PHOTO | Check back here for school closing updates.

Updates on school closings, delayed openings and school event cancellations:

• Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts, St. Isidore’s and the Riverhead Charter School will be closed Monday.

• Bishop McGann-Mercy High School students weren’t scheduled to attend classes on Monday because the school had scheduled a Principal’s Professional Development Day. Officials said the professional development session has been cancelled.

02/09/13 3:21pm
02/09/2013 3:21 PM

A view toward the end of a time-lapse video that condensed 13 hours of footage into under five minutes.

Reader Matthew Graziano of Riverhead created this time-lapse video of the blizzard from Friday night into Saturday. Every five seconds a picture was taken. It added up to 13 hours of video condensed to just under five minutes.

By the end of the blizzard, Mr. Graziano — a 2006 Riverhead graduate — said there was 21 inches of snow.

It was the first time-lapse video he created, he said.

02/09/13 9:52am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Father Peter Narkeiewicz was out again this morning at 7:30 am shoveling the steps of St. Isidore’s Church. He said the snow blowers were snowed in the garage. All he had for breakfast was Tylenol for his sore back.

The worst may be behind us, but now comes the hard part: cleaning up.

A nor’easter that dumped as much as two feet of snow in some areas is expected to clear the area by late morning, with a few snow showers lingering through 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. A northwest wind is expected to be sustained around 24-28 mph. Gusts can be as high as 39 mph.

Roads remained mostly impassable throughout the East End Saturday morning.

The highest snow total so far reported by the National Weather Service was 30.9 inches in Upton.

In Riverhead, Highway Superintendent George Woodson said the early focus is on main roads with side roads being addressed later in the afternoon.

“It’s so much snow and it’s so heavy to push that the trucks are having an issue,” Mr. Woodson said. “It’s going to take a little bit longer.”

Riverhead Town issued a statement at 9 a.m. that said travel in Riverhead is still prohibited.

Mr. Woodson said north-south roads were worst, as far as main roads go. A big problem so far has been private plowers that are clearing parking lots and private developments.

“They’re pushing stuff right back into the roads,” Mr. Woodson said. “We should be giving tickets. That’s a big time problem as far as I see.”

In Riverhead there were more than 300 people without power as of around 9:30 a.m., according to the LIPA outage map.

02/09/13 9:00am

Blizzard of 2013 in Wading River, NY

MELANIE DROZD PHOTO | Sound Avenue in Wading River behind EastWind Caterers Friday morning.

A powerful nor’easter dumped more than a foot of snow on the North Fork Friday night into Saturday. As the storm passed and highway crews tried to clear the roads, the Times/Review Newsgroup editorial team and readers provided live news updates and photos.

As of early Saturday morning, most North Fork roads remained impassable, but things began to clear as the day went on.

Blowing snow and icing roadways led officials to tell drivers to remain off roadways Saturday night into Sunday.

Click below to see what happened, as it happened.

Also feel free to post photos and news.

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