By Long Islander News staff
While Winter Storm Stella was expected to bring upwards of two feet of snow Tuesday, it ultimately dropped roughly 3-5 inches of the white stuff across the Town of Huntington. But the snowfall ended up being a footnote for the storm that brought strong winds, icy conditions, and big waves to the North Shore.
Dave Weber, owner and general manager of Seymour’s Boatyard in Northport Village, said Northport Harbor is somewhat protected from winds and conditions were calm throughout Tuesday, but there was some flooding at the docks and in the municipal parking lot.
Tides a foot and a half above normal were “strictly due to the northeast wind pushing the water and holding the water in, not allowing the tied cycle to flush out,” Weber said, adding that no boats were damaged during the storm.
Farther north, waves crashed down on the shore of Crab Meadow and Makamah beaches.
Properties on Makamah suffered some erosion damage, town spokesman A.J. Carter said. Homes in this area were also greatly affected by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
To the east in Asharoken, village Officer-In-Charge Ray Mahdesian said there was minimal flooding and erosion reported. However, Asharoken police did close a portion of Asharoken Avenue near Bevin Road by the sea wall after the tide came over the wall. The road was closed for two-and-a-half hours, Mahdesian said.
Despite the road closure, Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica said he was happy that the storm had minimal impact with nominal amounts of water coming over the seawall during high tide.
“We did absolutely fine. It was just another storm, very similar to ones we’ve seen in the past,” Letica. “Our police department did a great job. Huntington Highway Department did a nice job for us keeping the roads clear.”
Prior to the storm on Monday the Village of Huntington Bay added three additional three plows and staffed two additional officers with extended shifts, said Mayor Herb Morrow. Conditions in the village were ultimately calm, he added. There were no reported power outages or accidents, according to Morrow.
“I think people were so spooked by the forecast they got in and stayed in,” Morrow said, adding that the village coordinated with the Halesite Fire Department during the storm. He also said officials called to check on those residents who live alone in the village.
The trend of residents staying home during the storm was also noted by Suffolk Police 2nd Precinct Inspector Christopher Hatton, who said call volume was lower during the storm than it is on a typical Tuesday.
“We had our officers out on patrol and just ready to assist disabled motorists that they encounter and responding to 911 calls,” Hatton said, adding that officer also contact the town or county when they come across particularly icy areas.
Police did, however, respond to several calls of downed power lines that caused minor power outages, traffic light malfunctions and small fires.
According to fire officials, the Huntington Fire Department responded to five storm-related incidents on Tuesday, including downed power lines and a leaking roof.
Huntington firefighters battled a house fire on Park Avenue near Linda Place after a large tree fell onto the road and ripped down power lines at around 10:50 a.m. No injuries were reported, but the downed power lines did cause an outage that spanned north to Huntington Town Hall.
Town Hall had a delayed opening at 10:30 a.m., but closed for the day following the outage.
Police also responded to several car accidents within the area, including the fatal crash on Woodbury Road in Huntington — although police said that crash was caused by a medical event the driver suffered before his car slammed into a tree.
The roads were managed by Huntington Highway Superintendent Peter Gunther, who said residents, for the most part, cooperated with the cleanup effort by leaving their cars in their driveways or off the streets.
“People are making an effort to do it. It really makes a big difference in being able to plow the streets.” Gunther said.
He said the heavy loaders were let go at 1 p.m. on Tuesday since there wasn’t as much snow as predicted. The outside vendors and other departments were relieved at 3 p.m., with the remainder of the highway crew finishing up at 4 p.m.
Payloaders were left on the ground until 11 p.m. that night, switching with another shift to help manage the icy conditions.
Another of Gunther’s goals was to ensure all hills and main roads were salted and sanded for school buses come Wednesday morning.
Gunther added that the contractors, who are paid hourly, worked from 3 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday.
“People don’t realize that the men and women, they put in sometimes 36, 40 hours straight. They do a wonderful job, and sometimes they don’t get enough credit. I really appreciate how hard they work.”
Downtowns Dig Out
The downtown villages of Huntington and Northport dug out from the snow on Wednesday after several businesses closed Tuesday, or altered hours, due to the storm.
Northport’s usual Main Street hustle and bustle was dampened Tuesday as snow and ice kept customers away.
At Organically Yours in Northport, owner Alison Howie said she decided to close because it was “hard for people to get out” in the “pelting rain” and ice. Howie said she dug the shop out Tuesday, and despite helping with other businesses’ walkways, she was only a little sore Wednesday. Still, “that snow was heavy,” she said.
Following the storm, some Huntington village business owners took issue with the state of sidewalks and roadways in the village.
Peter Goldfarb, owner of Chip’n Dipped, said he was concerned for safety of his patrons due to the buildup of ice on the street in front of his store.
Several intersections in Huntington village, including at Main and Green streets, were near impossible to properly cross Wednesday as snow and ice built up on street corners. While business owners are tasked with clearing snow and ice the sidewalk in front of their businesses, it is up to the state to give the OK for the town’s highway department to clear the intersections of the state-operated roads, such as 25A and New York Avenue.
Ultimately, however, “it was a regular storm,” said Phil Macedonio, a longtime equipment operator for the Village of Northport.
“It turned out it was not as much as we thought,” Macedonio said, adding that the rest of the village crew came in at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday to start plowing and sanding. “We took care of our roads. Management made some great calls. Even when the ice came out, we were right on top of it.”
Cheryl Kang, store manager for over two decades at Four Star True Variety & Home store, was spreading ice melt in front of the store on Wednesday morning.
“I do snow, but not ice,” she said, adding that the store had to close due to the storm on Tuesday. “Hopefully winter’s over — for the whole town.”