snow digger

The headlines were intense.

“Governor declares state of emergency.” “Governor deploys national guard.” “New Yorkers urged to stay home and avoid travel.” “Governor announces ban on commercial vehicles on roadways.” “New York City subway, LIRR and Metro-North halt service.” “Bee-Line buses and Paratransit service suspended.”

But the worst one of all: “Winter storm will impact vaccine appointments.”

The 2021 Nor’easter named Orlena roared in like a lion around 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, with gusty winds and heavy snow that piled up between 1 and 2 inches per hour before finally decelerating to light snowfall more than 40 hours later.

The slow-moving storm dumped about 24 inches of snow throughout the Hudson Valley, including 18 to 20 inches in Scarsdale, on Monday and Tuesday. During the height of the storm, roads were impassable and visibility was severely reduced, creating extremely dangerous travel conditions. Schools were canceled throughout the state Monday, and confirmed appointments on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at state-run COVID-19 vaccination sites — and most other sites — were canceled as well.

“The State sites will call back the people and set up the appointment, but it is a State order that all vaccine sites honor the appointment,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a radio call-in on Feb. 2. “I don't want anyone to think after everything they went through, the torture to get an appointment, that it's not going to be honored. It will be honored, and that's a State order, whether it's a city site, or a private site, or whoever's running it."

As the storm subsided Tuesday, a village crew of 40 ramped up efforts to make streets passable and to clear the village center and Five Corners, plowing the snow into mountains on nearly every corner, while operations staff and support staff worked a command in the Central Garage.

Approximately 1,900 staff hours were expended for snow fighting (where DPW staff fought to keep the roads as passable as possible during and immediately following the storm) and snow removal since the storm began Sunday evening, according to Superintendent of Public Works Jeffrey Coleman, with snow removal continuing through Thursday and sidewalk cleaning through Friday, Feb. 5.

Coleman said the snow is being hauled to the Freightway open parking lot (new this year) and to the yard waste transfer station at the Recycling Center. The cost for the cleanup is still being calculated, Coleman said, but the village is reimbursed by NYS Department of Transportation annually for snow and ice control along the Post Road and the NYS section of Weaver Street and Palmer Avenue. Westchester County reimburses the village for snow and ice control on the Heathcote Bypass, the Westchester County section of Weaver Street and a small section of Popham Road.

The forecast for rain Friday and more snow Sunday, Feb. 7 and Tuesday, Feb. 9 left DPW staff and many residents groaning. But the kids and the dogs had boundless fun in the lovely winter wonderland created by this historic storm, the kind that used to descend once in 100 years, but nowadays comes twice a year.

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