Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray declared a snow emergency on Thursday evening, and road crews have been out ever since clearing up to eight inches of snow that fell overnight.
Highway Department crews are using nearly 250 trucks and other pieces of snow-fighting equipment to clear local roads, Murray said, adding that they have plowed continuously since snow started to coat local streets. While the supervisor said that snow is expected to taper off by midday Friday, she anticipates there will up to 12 more hours of cleanup.
With frigid temperatures causing icing on roads, town officials said all area streets are being re-salted today. Although road crews reported that their windshields were constantly freezing, they were able to keep working through the night and into Friday morning, Murray said.
One of the greatest challenges that town crews have faced while clearing roads has been the wind. Murray explained that strong gusts continue to blow snow from rooftops and lawns into the street, forcing workers to clear the same roads multiple times.
"What we are doing is plowing and re-plowing because the drifting issues are our biggest operational challenge," she said. "As soon as we plow a street, the wind comes whipping down, and all the snow comes back down onto the street."
Town officials did not receive any reports of large trees being knocked down by the strong winds as of Friday morning. Murray noted that many of the weaker, older trees had already toppled during Hurricane Sandy. She urged residents to call the Department of Public Safety to report downed trees.
Town of Hempstead Hall is open, with a full bank of phone operators to answer residents’ questions. Some services, however, have been suspended because of the storm.
All Department of Parks and Recreation programs were cancelled Friday, although the parks remained open to the public. The Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick will be closed to visitors until further notice.
All town senior centers, except for the East Meadow Senior Center, also remained open; however, activities, classes and transportation were cancelled.