2010-12-23 / Front Page

Blizzard Blasts Putnam

by Eric Gross

The region's first snow storm of the season will be remembered for quite some time.

Fifty-plus mile per hour winds, heavy snow and white-out conditions halted Putnam County in its tracks. Sunday's storm that began at mid-afternoon intensified throughout the night into Monday morning knocking out electric service to more than 15,000 homes and businesses in the Carmel, Kent, Mahopac, Patterson, Southeast and Putnam Valley areas.

The entire Putnam County seat lost electricity from 1:30am to 12pm Monday. While no State of Emergency was declared, fire departments and ambulance corps throughout the county kept crews on-hand at fire stations around-the-clock while police cars were equipped with tire chains.

Highway crews had difficulty with the blowing and drifting snow. A county sanding truck ran off Route 301 in Carmel Monday morning.

Accumulations ranged from 13 inches in Cold Spring and Patterson to 12 inches in Carmel, Kent and Southeast and 9 inches in Mahopac.

Residents relayed frightening tales when caught in the storm. NYC firefighter Ken Stefanak of Carmel said it took him more than three hours to get home Sunday night following his tour: "I don't ever remember seeing the roads so bad."

State Police and the New York State DOT closed Route 84 in Putnam County Sunday night and Monday morning due to hazardous driving conditions and stalled cars and trucks.

Matt Stevens of Mahopac and his wife spent the holidays with their children in south Jersey: "We were caught up in the Christmas spirit and failed to pay attention to the forecasters which was a foolish mistake."

Stevens said he and his wife began their trek back to Putnam at 1pm and didn't arrive home until 9:45pm: "Talk about a white knuckle trip. Spin-outs were everywhere. It was intense."

Brewster State Police reported a one vehicle crash when a car went out of control on slippery Fairfield Drive across from the Putnam Lake FD headquarters and crashed into a storefront. The driver suffered minor injuries.

Numerous trees and utility poles snapped like matchsticks due to the intense winds. Many roads were blocked until highway crews were able to clear the debris.

The roaring winds and big booming claps resembling thunder during the height of the storm made Mother Nature's wrath more intense.

Sheriff Don Smith said he never remembered such intensity: "It didn't want to let up. Wave after wave kept many of us awake all night."

Metro North Railroad was also hard hit suspending service for a time before operating on a Sunday schedule Monday with diesel engines replacing electric equipment since many of the third rails were covered with snow.

Many businesses closed Monday while others opened late.

The Putnam County governmental complex did not man office staff until noon-time due to the power interruption and the inability for employees

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Weekly Quotation

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~Norman Vincent Peale