Highway crews handle two feet of snow with grit, sand and plows

| 22 Feb 2012 | 03:51

All that remains of the two-day snowstorm that packed winds of more than 50 mph at times from Sunday into Monday, are large piles of snow along sidewalks, streets and parking lots. The severity of the weather prompted the Towns of Monroe and Woodbury to call states of emergency, banning unnecessary traffic because “going 10 miles an hour was going too fast,” said James Gulick, who will be sworn in as the town of Monroe’s new highway superintendent next week. The Woodbury Senior Center on Route 105 also became a safe haven for out-of-towners stranded in Woodbury, including a family of 13 from Brazil who had been shopping at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. The storm, though, required nearly 25 hours of non-stop plowing by members of local highway departments. The one saving grace, according to Harriman highway chief John Karl, was that it was a light snow, not heavy and wet. “The bad part of the storm was the very intensive wind Sunday night,” Karl recounted. “We worked 25 straight hours Sunday into Monday to keep the roads safe and open. No equipment breakdowns. Now, we’re asking the public to give us a hand and shovel out the fire hydrants on their properties.” Gulick, who got his feet wet as an interim chief, noted that in spite of the driving wind, “It was not so bad. Everything is pretty well clear now.” He commended his highway crew for doing a “terrific job.” The Village of Monroe highway chief Brian Smith said his crew worked 27 hours straight the first day to clear the two feet of snow. He was aided by workers who cancelled their vacations and came in voluntarily to work. “It went smooth. It’s what we do. We have a system and it kicked in.” Smith is already looking ahead to the next weather-maker — this time rain. “Now we’re clearing the snow from the storm drains to prevent flooding problems.” Tuxedo Supervisor Peter Dolan also credited the highway department for “a really great job - not one single complaint.” Dolan noted that a recent ice storm prompted the department to break out the snow removal equipment so there were no surprises this weekend. “This enabled the crew to work without any equipment failure,” he said. “ We are one of the few towns with a considerable amount of mileage.” How did the average resident fare Cromwell Hill Road resident, Janice Finch said she walks to her job at ShopRite. Her only concerns are the towering snow mounds that she said will be a hindrance for children when they go back to school next week. She felt better when she learned those weathermen that forecasted the big blizzard are predicting warm weather this weekend which should melt a good amount of the white stuff. And, for Lourdes Ruiz, the storm was terrible. “Too much snow, too quickly.” Her daughter Gillian was just happy Monroe-Woodbury schools were closed. “I went sleigh riding.”’ But, it was not all fun and games for Gillian. Her mother said Gillian had to help shovel the driveway. Safe haven The Woodbury Senior Center on Route 105 was a safe haven for 35 people. Woodbury Supervisor John Burke said he declared a State of Emergency at 8:30 p.m. Sunday night. At 11 p.m. he opened up the Senior Center after learning people either had their cars towed on the Thruway or found the area motels and hotels were filled. Woodbury Police helped in transporting many of the stranded to the center. Burke said a couple of volunteer firemen and a police officer stayed with them all night. WalMart donated cases of water and snack type food in addition to 25 blankets, the said. Burke said he was able to lift the emergency ban by 9:15 the next morning because the roads were that clear. “I want to publicly acknowledge the great job the highway crew did.” The stranded visitors were thrilled with the how well they were treated by the Woodbury officials, Burke added.

According to information from the National Weather Service, here’s a list of snow accumulations in inches throughout the metropolitan area:
32: Rahway, N.J.
29: Elizabeth, N.J
26: Harriman
26: Tuxedo Park
25: Monroe
24: Sheepshead Bay
20: Central Park