Unsung Heroes Of The Snowstorm


How the Port Washington Police Department and the school crossing guards worked together to keep the children safe.
The blizzard that hit Long Island Friday night on Jan. 28 covered the Port Washington area in about 10 inches of snow. The storm continued throughout the night and most of the day on Saturday. When massive snowstorms hit, most people concern themselves with digging out their homes, their cars and businesses so they can get back to their daily routine as soon as possible. Some things that don’t get as much attention are the bus stops and sidewalks that kids have to travel on when school starts again after the storm.
While the town cleared the roads from ice and snow, the Port Washington Police Department and the crossing guards of Port Washington set out to make sure the children had a clear and safe path to travel to and from school.
The Town of North Hempstead’s snow removal crew was “out all day Saturday and a lot of the day Sunday going back over the roads,” said the town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena. “They were out on Monday and Tuesday as well still cleaning the roads up.”
“In Port Washington, the town crew has 45.7 miles to clear,” Supervisor DeSena said. “We had plenty of staff and our equipment was all working. We had plenty of gas and materials to handle the storm.”
To make sure the bus stops and school crossing corners were clear for the children on Monday, Jan. 31, the Port Washington Police Department had sent out Detective Anthony Guzzello accompanied by another officer, Lionel Puton, to get to work.
Guzzello is the school liaison for the police department, “but is also now handling some of the building aspects for the police district and one of those tasks is keeping the police department [headquarters] clear of snow and ice,” said Guzzello.
“It took about three hours on Sunday to clear out 10 school crossing corners for the school crossing guards,” said Guzzello. “We had a snowplow, shovels and put down both sand and salt in the spots.”
Most kids hope for a snowstorm to take place on a weekday so they can get a snow day off from school. Children are even known to perform rituals in hopes of a snow day, such as putting a spoon under the pillow, wearing pajamas inside out and flushing ice cubes down the toilet. While the traditions may be fruitless, they are fun.
Because the snow started late Friday night and continued all day Saturday, the kids did not get a snow day, which worked out well for the Port Washington Police Department.
“Having the extra day before school started made it possible to clear the snow,” said Guzzello. “It’s challenging to do if you don’t have a day in between the snow and school starting because plows keep coming by. But since the plows had stopped, the roads had started to clear and it was a Sunday, we had the time to clear the crossing guard spots.”
He added, “If it were a weekday storm, we’d be doing it in between the crossings, which is difficult, but we still get it done. This is the first time we were finally able to get it done before school and everyone was happy about that.”
The school crossing guards are grateful for Guzzello and the Port Washington Police Department’s help. One crossing guard, Wandell Thomas, whose post is at Harbor Road and Charles Avenue, detailed her experience on Monday when she took her post.
“Plows came again after Detective Guzzello cleared the posts on Sunday, so on Monday morning when I got to my post, I had to borrow one of the homeowner’s shovels and clean it up a bit,” said Thomas. “It didn’t take me long to clear my post, and there wasn’t much there because Detective Guzzello took care of it. I just cleared the little pushback that was there.”
Crossing busy roads after and before school during rushing traffic is already dangerous for children, but it becomes even more dangerous with the snow, tight sidewalks and icy roads. Thomas has quite a few children that cross at her post.
“I have elementary school, middle school and high school children that cross,” said Thomas.
Students of all ages, especially during the rough conditions of the storm’s aftermath, need assistance and guidance to cross the streets safely. Luckily, the school crossing guards of Port Washington bundle up and bear the cold weather to help the students get to and from school safely.
Guzzello stressed the importance of teamwork in keeping the community safe during these storms. He reminds residents of the importance “to clear the snow around hydrants in front of their homes and businesses,” said Guzzello.
Keeping fire hydrants open and available to assure they are accessible to the fire department in an emergency is necessary.
“If people could still clear the fire hydrants, it would be wonderful. Even though the snow is starting to melt, there are still some hydrants that are covered,” said Guzzello.
Keeping the children of Port Washington safe, especially during dangerous conditions like a snowstorm, is a priority for the Village of Port Washington.
The help from the Port Washington Police Department and the school crossing guards made a big difference in improving the kids’ snowstorm experience.