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Tumultuous Weather Year Gives Final Wallop to Great Neck

Mother Nature gave one last little reminder of her power just as 2010 was about to draw to a close and once more we were reminded of the excellent emergency responsiveness of our fire departments, our ambulance services and public works crews and police from the villages, the town and even beleaguered, money-strapped Nassau County. As we watched the grim stories emerge from metropolitan New York neighborhoods that were totally impassable, even days after the last snowflake fell, it reinforced our belief in the strength of local governments and our emergency services and their ability to coordinate and cooperate for more effectiveness. When large scale events happen, the strength and goodwill of the system become even more evident.

The Vigilant Chairman of the Board of Trustees David Weiss reported that the Vigilants responded to three general alarms during the storm and received mutual aid from Manhasset-Lakeville in one of the ambulance runs. He said, “We answered every call..and also in the conditions we had during this storm, the public should know that we send a truck with a snow plow on it with every ambulance call...just in case we need to clear snow in order to reach the person with the medical emergency.” They, along with the other fire departments serving Great Neck, had volunteer firefighters on standby in the various firehouses during the storm.

Chief Willie Peterson of the Alerts told the Record that they had no major calls during the height of the storm and its aftermath. He said, “The roads were passable and it was pretty quiet.” As a precaution, a number of firefighters were on standby at the station from 3 p.m. on Sunday until 8 o’clock the next morning so that if a major event had occurred, an accident or working fire, personnel would be on hand to rush to the emergency. He said that the only call during the worst of the storm was a large fallen tree branch that came down on Hicks Lane that had been dangling ever since the summer microburst.

Chief of the Fire Department for the Manhasset Lakeville Fire & Water District Kyle Dugger urges all homeowners to first of all, take note of the nearest fire hydrant to your property and make sure to clear it after a snowstorm. It can make a huge difference in time saved if fire hydrants are easily accessible. Firefighters in all five Manhasset-Lakeville firehouses were also on stand-by with chains on the trucks and ready to go. They made 21 calls during the storm with one working fire, 7 EMS runs, 6 hazardous calls such as downed branches or wires, and 2 good intent calls. One of the “good intent” calls was to a bed-ridden resident who needed household assistance. There were 4 false alarms. He said, “We had an excellent response from our members.”

Mayor David Fox of Great Neck Estates said that the budget for dealing with such emergencies was “tapped out” after the summer wind storms that did such damage, but he said, “Public safety comes first and our public works people were out right away sanding, salting, and plowing...we’ll find the money for it all somehow.” He also said that police in the Estates had illegally parked cars towed so that plows could get through for better road work. And he added, “My business is located in Brooklyn...it’s a catastrophe here...it’s a wonder that people didn’t riot.”

Mayor Ralph Kreitzman of the Village of Great Neck said, “On Friday, before the dire warnings, our public works staff were preparing for the worst…they had the trucks fully gassed and lined up ready to roll out and plenty of salt ready…They put down salt on dangerous hills and curves in the beginning and got ahead of the storm in plowing. They do a fabulous job, partly because they are experienced and trained, and also because they really care.”

Mayor Robert Stern from Thomaston reported, “There was no excitement in Thomaston..all went well.”

Mayor Jean Celender responded to an email query writing, “ The Village of Great Neck Plaza’s Department of Public Works, under the supervision of Ivor Belgrave, and all of the men in his department did a terrific job in response to the sixth largest snowstorm in New York history.  With what amounted to close to 20 inches of snow, and with wind gusts of 60 mph creating fierce drifts, they managed to stay ahead of the buildup of snow on the streets and worked all through the night of the storm, Dec. 26 and late into the evening the next day to clear our streets. The DPW personnel have continued to work hard and long days all week to remove snow piles and clear cut areas. The Building Department, Code Enforcement and all village staff have been assisted in the efforts responding to snow-related issues and questions.”

She went on to report that an MTA-LI bus was stranded as it was heading south on South Middle Neck Road near Barstow. It could not manage to overcome the incline there and slid partially sideways into the left lane. It and other cars parked in the vicinity really hampered the county’s snowplows. On two evenings, Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, Nassau County DPW crews worked to clear the parking lanes.

Mayor Celender sends out a special thanks to the crews and to Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth and DPW Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudia for expediting the much needed work at night.

Mayor Celender also urges residents to take heed of storm warnings and in such times to move their cars to one of the covered levels of our structure parking lots, either Gussack Plaza or Maple Drive. She says, “You don’t have to have a parking permit, for we suspend parking regulations for 24 hours after the cessation of snowfall of at least 4 inches.” In fact, due to the severity of this storm and the tremendous hardships for commuters, the village allowed parking in their garages all week without a permit. That may not be true for all storms, so check the village website for updates and for guidelines during snow emergencies at www.greatneckplaza.net.

Efforts are still underway to clear the mounds of snow in parking lots, clear cuts along the curbs, fire hydrants and at crosswalks.

Saddle Rock Mayor J. Leonard Samansky contracts roadwork from an outside source and told the Record that they did a “magnificent job.”

The relatively “warm” weather of the last few days is slowly melting and shrinking  the mountains of snow. In time, the memories of the storm will fade, but what will remain is our confidence in all the people who volunteer and work to make our community a safe haven.