Suffolk, Riverhead, Southampton declare states of emergency


Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:20 a.m.

During separate press conferences Saturday morning, both Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the county following news that the North Shore and East End of Long Island are expected to get 12 to 18 inches of snow — and between 18 and 24 inches on the South Shore.

Mr. Bellone added that winds are blowing up to 45 miles per hour and snow is falling at a rate of one to three inches each hour.

A state of emergency alerts citizens to change their normal behavior and makes government agencies implement their emergency plans.

The announcement allows Suffolk to call for additional assistance from the state and enter into certain agreements in removing snow from roadways and adding vehicles and equipment to its fleet, a county spokesperson said.

It doesn’t ban people from driving, though Mr. Bellone urged everyone to stay indoors and off the roads.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter declared a state of emergency effective 10 a.m., as did Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

No formal snowfall totals have been released, but as of about 9:30 a.m., 2 to 4 inches has been reported across Riverhead.

Mr. Walter said in advance of higher tides expected this morning, police placed notes on cars in the parking lot by the Peconic River urging motorists to move their cars to higher grounds. In addition, the landlord for Summerwind was notified to have tenants move their cars.

The town announced a winter storm event, barring cars from parking on the street, last night.

For the most part, it’s just a matter of sitting tight and waiting out the storm, officials said.

“[The roads are] dangerous, treacherous,” the county executive said at a press conference in Yaphank this morning. “Conditions of significant accumulation and high winds are creating blizzardlike conditions.”

According to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini there have been 60 calls made so far regarding the snow and storm conditions. There have also been seven motor vehicle accidents, none with serious injuries. Mr. Bellone said call volumes are minimal as of 8 a.m. this morning. Same for power outages, according to information from PSEG.

Due to the weather, 275 county plows have been on the roads since midnight. More are expected to be out later, Mr. Bellone said. He said temperatures are expected to increase in the next few days, which makes clearing the storm easier and makes it “safer for all residents.”

“I want to thank all plow operators and personnel in the Department of Public Works for the work they do and what they’re doing out there,” Mr. Bellone said during the press conference. “It’s difficult work and hard work and they’re doing it on very little sleep. They’re working to keep our roads and our community safe.”

Mr. Cuomo said in a press conference Saturday morning that “everything that can be done has been done,” including fully deploying the National Guard, using hundreds pieces of equipment on the roads and dispatching state police.

Additionally, Suffolk County Transit is closed from the day. Mr. Bellonw encouraged Suffolk residents to sign up for the County’s code red emergency notification system at suffolkcountyny.gov and to check his Facebook page for further updates.

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Photo: Snowfall in Wading River appeared to be about 3 inches as of 9:30 a.m. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)