Snow Socks Central N.Y.

Area c-stores stay open, offering essentials for locals, shelter for service providers

OSWEGO, N.Y. -- Governor Eliot Spitzer last Thursday declared a State Disaster Emergency for Oswego County, N.Y., which has been battered by storms that have deposited more than 80 inches of snow in places, hampering movement of medical personnel and stranding travelers and motorists. And the convenience store industry has risen to the occasion.

Surprisingly, we have not shut down a store, even those that are 24 hours, Fran Duskiewicz, senior executive vice president of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, told CSP Daily News. That speaks volumes for our people. [image-nocss] And I must say the same for our competitors, which speaks volumes for our industry in general.

He added, Believe it or not, these stores have been very busy. People cannot make the normal trip to the supermarket, so we are the stores of choice' for essentials and fast food. This makes staying open even more critical. People sure do appreciate us being there.

There are 27 Nice N Easy c-stores in the affected area. Duskiewicz said towns where the Canastota, N.Y.-based retailer has stores have received from 60 inches to more than 120 inches of snow since February 4, and forecasters are predicting more snow into this week.

The situation has gone from absurd to downright dangerous, he said. Roofs are collapsing and many people are housebound. There is no more room to plow snow. NBC national news was in the village of Mexico yesterday. At that point they had 84 inches of snow dumped on them. The reporters measured a 14-foot snow bank. Residents of these towns have taken to snow swimming,' where they try to slide around on top of the snow because they simply cannot walk through it. The only way our vice president of operations, Ron Rowland, could get out of his house this morning was though a window because snow drifts had blocked his doors.

In declaring the emergency, Spitzer directed the implementation of the State Disaster Preparedness Plan and authorized all state agencies to take appropriate action to assist affected local governments and individuals in responding to and recovering from these storms.

Representatives from State Emergency Management Office (SEMO), New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT), state police and the New York Department of Health (NYDOH) are assisting in the Oswego County Emergency Operations Center. The NTDOT is leading the Transportation Infrastructure Group in coordinating snow removal operations with local communities.

I have to say the road crews and snow removal teams have done a great job keeping the roads passable, said Duskiewicz. And these guys love having our stores open because they have a place to stop, as do the police and anyone else out there trying to maintain public safety.

Late Thursday, the northern parts of Oswego County were accumulating as much as three inches of snow per hour, Dave Sage, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, told the Associated Press. At times, the snow has fallen at a rate of as much as five inches an hour. I'm sure before morning there's going to be three or four areas that have up to 100 inches [in Oswego County], he added.

Whiteout conditions forced state police to temporarily close Interstate 81 between Central Square and Pulaski, a stretch of about 15 miles. Travel advisories against unnecessary travel were posted for Oswego and its neighboring counties. Mexico officials renewed a snow emergency declaration, and many government offices were closed. Schools were closed for a fourth day in Oswego and Mexico.

Temperatures in the Northeast inched back up to something closer to normal for this time of year, but the upper Midwest and northern Plains still awoke to subzero temperatures Thursdayminus-12 in Minneapolis and three below zero in Chicago. The bitter cold and slippery roads have contributed to at least 20 deathsfive in Ohio, four in Illinois, four in Indiana, two in Kentucky, two in Michigan, and one each in Wisconsin, New York and Maryland, authorities said.