Battered by snowfall, towns look to recover

Photo courtesy Melanie Ryan Garfield Ave., looking eastward toward the New York City skyline.
Photo courtesy Melanie Ryan
Garfield Ave., looking eastward toward the New York City skyline.

By Kevin Canessa & Ron Leir 
Observer Correspondents 

What a storm! Unofficially, Kearny got 26.5 inches of the white stuff — but wind drifts made it a lot worse than that.

The Observer got these updates on how the various municipalities were handling the snow as of Sunday night and Monday morning:

In Kearny, Mayor Alberto G. Santos kept residents up to date with what was happening with Facebook updates throughout the weekend.

But for those who weren’t able to read his Facebook posts, the mayor said the slow progress in plowing the town’s streets wasn’t that workers weren’t busting their butts to clear the streets – it was that the sheer amount of snow made it impossible for just plows to remove snow.

“DPW is working hard, but this amount of snow is not a straight plow run; it requires, in many cases, frontend loaders to scoop up mounds of snow from the middle of the street,” Santos wrote on Facebook Sunday. “DPW has been working all night plowing roadways, but many streets remain unplowed and the operation is proceeding at a much slower pace than usual for several reasons.

“The amount of snow — 26.5 inches in Kearny — means only the larger plows have the capacity needed and even the large plows have gotten stuck at times. All of the large plows having been clearing streets through the night and this [Sunday] morning.

“Second, some residents did not heed the travel ban and had vehicles stuck in the middle of roadways — some of them were abandoned by drivers and the plows had to wait until those vehicles could be towed.

“Finally, some drivers parked their vehicles at corners which prevents large plows from turning on to certain blocks like parts of Maple St. and Highland Ave. DPW will continue plowing streets throughout the day.”

Santos said any plowing-related questions should be directed to the town’s DPW at 201-998-3700.

Kearny Third Ward Councilwoman Carol Jean Doyle said the town’s efforts to battle the snow was hampered by “some people who didn’t heed the red code [travel ban],” those who parked haphazardly ending up in the path of plows and others who shoveled snow into the middle of the street while digging out their cars.

In one case, Doyle said, a motorist enroute home abandoned their car in the middle of a dead-end street, blocking a hydrant. The driver reportedly ended up being ticketed and towed.

The storm, which dumped more than two feet of snow in the area, “was a real challenge for the [DPW],” Doyle said, and despite the obstacles faced, “I’d say they did a decent job, given they were working 12- hour shifts.”

Kearny resident Len Twist, coordinator of the Trap/Neuter/Return program, that in some cases, “plows couldn’t get through” Belgrove Drive, Davis Ave. and some other streets “because of the way cars were parked, nose in, ass out.”

Parts of South Kearny were negotiable, Twist said, thanks to PSE&G and several industries clearing access approaches while Fish House Road, on the other hand, was badly flooded. “It was like a winter Sandy there,” he said.

Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl said he noticed “a lot of [private] vehicles broken down” in the storm. No surprise there, Dyl said, given that “you had a 30-inch snowstorm with drifts.”

In East Newark, Police Chief/DPW coordinator Anthony Monteiro said the borough was on target with its snow clearance program. “I’d say for about 75% of our streets, you could see blacktop,” he said. And, he said, the borough made good use of a rented front-end loader for plowing and cleaning out our lots.”

Belleville Mayor Raymond Kimble said: “We got most of our main roads clear. As for the secondary roads, we were running into the problem of people throwing snow into the street to shovel out their cars which made it difficult for plows to get down some streets.”

In North Arlington, borough street crews — hampered a bit by “some equipment breakdowns” — got help from five private contractors in taking away the snow, according to Councilman Rich Hughes. He said some of the snow is being dumped in the Passaic River by the Passaic Valley sewer facility and also some in municipal parking lots. Some cars parked along snow emergency routes were towed, he said.

In Lyndhurst, Public Works Commissioner Matt Ruzzo said local street department crews “did a fine job with what we had” but, as in other communities, had to contend with residents clearing driveways and “blowing snow into the street,” triggering complaints that a street hadn’t been cleaned, which meant that a crew had to go back to a block previously plowed.

“We put out an advisory a few days before the storm asking residents not to throw snow into the street,” Ruzzo said, but he acknowledged it was tough to enforce. “Problem is there are too many cars parked on both sides of the street,” he said.

In Nutley, Mayor Al Petracco said the township always does well during major snow emergencies and that this storm was no different.

“Everything’s gone so well,” Petracco said. “The main streets, you can see blacktop. Most of the side streets are clear. Our DPW did a fantastic job as they always do.”

Petracco said he was glad school was canceled Monday, giving the DPW and the school district the time it needed to clear snow away. For the next few days, he urges “parents to try to walk their kids to school.”

“In some cases, the snow banks are 7-, 8-feet high,” Petracco said. “It will make turning a lot more difficult in cars. So if they can, I hope parents will walk their kids to school for the time being.”

Petracco said there were no fires or major incidents during the storm, but there were several shoveling-related emergencies.

“The squad got a few calls for chest pain related to shoveling, but because the streets were clear, there were no issues getting to the patients who needed help because the vehicles could easily pass,” he said. “During these storms, we beef up our manpower and everyone did an excellent job. We train for times like this so that when it really happens, it’s not like a drill. They’ve all been well prepared for what they faced.”

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Editor & Broadcaster at 

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.