LONG ISLAND (WABC) — A stretch of the Long Island Expressway is closed Sunday as crews work to clear snow and ice from the highway in time for Monday morning’s rush hour.
The LIE is closed in both directions from exits 57-73 until 5 p.m. for the massive cleanup job.
The Suffolk County Police Department is bringing down road graters from upstate New York, which are the large pieces of construction equipment that have the fixed grating blades on them.
Cars began getting stuck during the blizzard Friday afternoon because weather conditions were so bad.
Authorities say vehicles are backed up and can’t pass one another, and mounds of snow from plows have made it difficult for them to exit the highway.
Abandoned cars still litter the highway, but it is nothing compared to what Eyewitness News saw in Lake Grove. Eyewitness News was the only station that witnessed firefighters rescuing some 20 people Saturday morning – they spent a long cold night stuck in their cars along Nesconset Highway
Rescuers were also helping dozens of stranded motorists in St. James, Suffolk County. At least some of them had been trapped since Friday afternoon.
Authorities say no injuries have been reported.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says several hundred snow plows from around the state are heading to Suffolk County.
He added that utility crews are having a difficult time getting through to make repairs because of the blocked roads.
About 10,000 utility customers, most in eastern Suffolk, did not have electricity Saturday morning, said Wendy Ladd of the National Grid.
“We have plenty of crews available to do the restoration work, and if we can get to them, we’re saying we can get them back in 24 hours,” Ladd said. “But the issue is whether our big trucks can get to them if streets aren’t plowed.”
Long Island had some of the heaviest snow totals in the region, according to the National Weather Service, which said St. James and Commack both topped the 2-foot mark.
Upton had 30.3 inches of snow, Meteorologist David Stark said. Several other towns topped 2 feet: Setauket, Smithtown, Port Jefferson, Mount Sinai, Islip, Huntington and Commack.
In Nassau, by contrast, Wantagh reported 11 inches.
The Long Island Rail Road will be running trains every two hours on the Babylon, Huntington, Port Washington and Ronkonkoma branches between Penn Station and Farmingdale, Huntington, Babylon and Port Washington. The LIRR plans to operate service on a nearly-normal weekend schedule Sunday on most branches as post-blizzard recovery efforts continue.
Earlier, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a State of Emergency for the entire state, urging residents to stay indoors and off the roads.
National Grid took over storm preparations from the Long Island Power Authority for the storm, which the utility said could knock out power to 100,000 LIPA customers. At an evening news conference, officials said most outages would be restored within 24 hours of when they are reported.
The move marked the first time since LIPA’s creation in 1998 that it ceded control of operations and public communications during a potential emergency. LIPA owns the network, but National Grid has always operated the electric grid under contract.
The decision to have National Grid take the lead in storm response is due to the Moreland Commission, which was empaneled by Governor Andrew Cuomo to look into the state utility’s shaky response to Sandy. In its report, the commission found that two separate companies with different emergency plans created confusion that hampered an effective response during an emergency.