Long Island Weather: Hundreds of Cars Still Stuck, Roads Reopening

Long Island Blizzard
Plow truck moving through Long Island Saturday morning. (Photo credit: Michael Damm)
Plow truck moving through Long Island Saturday morning. (Photo credit: Michael Damm)

More than 100 abandoned cars are still littered on major roadways in Suffolk County as emergency crews continue to clear roadways and officials reopen highways temporarily shut down by the dangerous winter storm that rocked Long Island.

From central Suffolk to the East End, emergency crews, many who have been at it for 24 hours, are maneuvering plows across the county to make roadways passable for drivers.

Officials said major highways—the Long Island Expressway, Sunrise Highway, Southern and Northern State Parkways and other roads—have been reopened but they continue to remind drivers to remain home because the conditions are still dangerous.

Suffolk County police Saturday night said hazards remain and are warning drivers to avoid certain areas, specifically Jericho Turnpike in Middle Island.

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Crews hindered by abandoned vehicles strewn across roads now have another obstacle before them: freezing roads.

“That hinders the manpower,” John Jordan, deputy commissioner of Suffolk Fire and Rescue, told the Press Saturday night.

More than 100 contractors are on the roads, Jordan said, adding that assets from New York City will make their way to Suffolk at 7 p.m. and will be dispatched to hard hit areas Sunday morning.

Officials expect clean up efforts to continue through Sunday.

While emergency crews have been successful in moving cars out of the way—some with forklifts and tow trucks—a “couple of hundred” abandoned cars remain strewn along roads, Jordan said.

“Some of them are in so much snow they’re not going to move until the snow melts,” he added.

Related: Snowfall totals on Long Island

He noted that County Road 83 in the Town of Brookhaven had 400 cars stuck on the roadway at one point, while other deserted cars were found along County Road 21 and at the intersection of Route 347 and Jericho Turnpike.

Many unlucky drivers had a front row seat to Friday night’s blizzard, as they were unable to leave their cars after the heavy snow swallowed them up.

Suffolk County police said 150 people were rescued from roadways and taken to warming shelters.

Others weren’t so lucky.

“Unfortunately it’s like quick sand, once you stop in snow like this…you get buried,” Jordan said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing Saturday that Suffolk took the brunt of the storm and “sustained significant damage and significant hardship.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone lamented that if the storm had held off for just a few more hours then less people would’ve been trapped in the blizzard overnight.

“If this storm would have happened two hours later, the hundreds of people struggling to get home would have made it home,” Bellone said. “Emergency vehicles were dispatched immediately but emergency vehicles at this time were getting stuck. Fire trucks were getting stuck…We’ve never seen anything like this.”

The Nor’easter began its onslaught on Long Island Friday afternoon and continued through the night. More than a dozen communities were hit with more than a foot of snow and several areas—all in Suffolk—saw more than 30 inches.

“It’s something that most people probably, if you see it, you’ll see it once in a lifetime, especially in this area,” Jordan said of the storm. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”