Hurleyville moves on after late-season blizzard

By Amanda Loviza

HURLEYVILLE — Winter Storm Stella swallowed the streets of Hurleyville in a blanket of white, but at the end of the surprise late-season blizzard the hamlet was no worse for the wear.

Several locals said it was about time Hurleyville saw another proper snowstorm. It had been decades since the town had a blizzard like this one, which dumped about 30 inches of snow on the region in less than 24 hours on March 14.

Alvin Lopez clears sidewalks outside the Hurleyville Maker’s Lab on Tuesday, March 14, as a blizzard rolls through Sullivan County. PHOTO BY J. JAMES WALL

Evan Riley, a server at Frankie and Johnny’s, said he was overjoyed to see snow like he remembered from his childhood in Woodridge. He used to dig snow forts in ditches along the country roads with his brother, Mr. Riley said, and this year’s blizzard brought back happy memories.

“My heart split with joy,” Mr. Riley said. “It was just nostalgic.”

As he went back to his duties after the restaurant reopened the day after the storm, Mr. Riley said he hoped the late-season storm would reinvigorate regional winter tourism. People have started to view ski season as over once March comes around, but Mr. Riley said he hoped some children were able to hit the slopes once the snow stopped. This kind of weather is supposed to be part of the region’s identity, Mr. Riley said.

“It’s not the magic of the Northeast without those little squalls,” Mr. Riley said. “It’s what makes us tougher.”

Snow comes down at a furious pace on Main Street as Winter Storm Stella hits on the morning of March 14. PHOTO BY J. JAMES WALL

While most residents huddled inside—rightly so, at the request of emergency services personnel—staff at The Center for Discovery worked even harder than usual. The work started in earnest the night before the storm, Vice President for Development Richard Humleker said. Direct care staff who knew they would be needed to take care of The Center’s physically and developmentally disabled residents made arrangements to either stay the night at The Center or have transportation during the storm. Mr. Humleker was one of many executive staff who drove around the county at the height of the storm to transport necessary staff members to their shifts.

“The roads were terrible, but the vision was worse,” Mr. Humleker said. “It was like a whiteout.”

Originally from Minnesota, Mr. Humleker said he knows snowstorms, but Stella was the worst, as far as whiteout conditions, that he has seen in his 33 years of working at The Center for Discovery. But the situation had its upside—Mr. Humleker said staff at The Center know what they need to do, and no matter what the circumstances on March 14, no one complained.

“It’s those kind of crises when The Center really comes together,” Mr. Humleker said. “The teamwork is pretty amazing.”

Lorraine Allen trudges through snowy sidewalks to get to Fiber On Main the day after 30 inches of snow blanketed Hurleyville during Winter Storm Stella. PHOTO BY AMANDA LOVIZA

Staff from The Center were the only people Erin Gluck saw during her March 14 shift at the Hurleyville Market. She watched people drive by and get stuck on the snowy roads, and a local donated a hot lunch that Ms. Gluck served to The Center’s grounds staff that were busy clearing roads, parking lots and sidewalks.

“I thought it was nice to just be there for them and feed their hungry bellies,” Ms. Gluck said.

Fallsburg supervisor Steve Vegliante said the town fared well under the circumstances. The highway department did an excellent job, with assistance from almost every other town department, Mr. Vegliante said.

“I am extremely proud of how well our departments worked together to get the roads cleared and keep them safe,” Mr. Vegliante said.

It was a similar story at SUNY Sullivan, where Interim President Jay Quaintance sung the praises of the college grounds staff. One county highway department truck flipped over on the college’s entrance loop after the driver lost sight of the road, but the campus stayed quiet and safe as students hunkered down to wait the storm out. Classes were cancelled for two days, with a delayed opening on the third day.

After shoveling all day throughout the storm, Hurleyville resident Lorraine Allen said winter is not quite as fun when a person is not young anymore. This was a unique storm, arriving after it seemed like spring was already here, but she is now ready for the next season.

“We’ll really appreciate spring when it comes,” Ms. Allen said.

For more storm coverage see additional photos elsewhere in this edition.