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Storm Cleanup Brings Neighbors, Storeowners Together

All day Monday Babylon Village neighbors helped plow each other's driveways, friends cleared another friend's storefront sidewalk and some just enjoyed the winter scenic view of the blizzard's aftermath.

With snow shovels in hand, and coffee and socks in demand, Babylon Village residents and shop keepers stayed warm Monday while digging out from the cold.

"We're packing it out in socks and gloves and boots," said Ted Rajczewski, a manager at Lo-man Outdoor Store on Deer Park Avenue. 

One of a handful of stores open, Lo-man's had a fair number of customers looking to purchase winter gear. Yet a bigger crowd hit the store Sunday, said Rajczewki, despite the winter storm forecast.

Lo-man's was "mobbed with returns as soon as we opened the door," he said.  "We had 25 people waiting and a line to the back for three straight hours."

When asked how he likes the snow, Rajczewski's answer was quick as a gust of wind:  "I don't."

But the Babylon Bean percolated with customers who didn't seem to mind venturing out in the white stuff  at all today. 

Seeking to warm themselves from the inside out, customers arrived steadily to place orders and plunk down at the tables in cheerful conversation.

"Everybody needs coffee on a cold day," said owner Sal Gervasi. 

Like most shops that did open, the start of the Bean's business day was delayed by the newly-deposited groundcover.  The Bean didn't open until 11 a.m. because Gervasi, who commutes in from Long Beach, had to wait until he could travel the parkways, which he said weren't clear early on.

But the roads of the village were. 

"The roads were pretty clear at 8:30 this  morning," said Mike Hack, proprietor of Rollins Printing on Main Street, who showed up to shovel his section of sidewalk. 

"There's been a lot of traffic and people on the roads but not a lot of stores open,"  he said.  When he fnished with his walk, Hack started to clear the path to Kitchen Korner, a neighboring shop.

Helping out was a common theme in the business district and along the residential streets.

"It only took five minutes and it was worth every second," said Jeff Kauf, village resident and former employee of the recently shuttered Babylon Paint and Hardware. 

Along with friend Frank Rudy, Kauf was removing snow as a surprise for Bob Norman, the owner of the closed business, who was himself "probably at work" today, said Kauf. Norman was likely busy at his job at Ace Hardware and his friends wanted to help him out.

"We were out and about and noticed the walk needed shoveling, so we're helping him," Kauf said.

It was the fifth shoveling project of the day for Kauf, who'd already excavated his own home and those of three neighbors.

"We were supposed to go skiing upstate today, but instead we're island-bound.  So we're just helping people."

Residents Tim and Cindy Rodgers of Smith Street were of like mind.

When asked how they'd managed to dig out, Cindy grinned and pointed her thumb at her husband:  "He did it."

"I got a snowblower five years ago," said Rodgers, "and now we snowblow the whole block." 

The couple was strolling Deer Park Avenue in search of an open restaurant for lunch.  A camera around her neck, Cindy said, "It was beautiful to see the storm all night."       

Hooded and cinched in her bright yellow snow parka, resident Pat Wachter stopped her snowblower only long enough to answer a few quick questions. 

"I just returned from climbing two mountains upstate," said Wachter, a member of the Long Island Adirondack Mountain Club.  She gazed at her driveway and lawn, a landscape not much different from where she'd just been, and laughed.   "I came home to this."

Along with two helpful neighbors, one shovel, and two snowblowers, Wachter was clearing ground while contributing to the string of mountain ranges appearing all along the residential streets.  

Snowbanks flanked both sides of her driveway and the borders of her corner lot.

"I'd better get back to helping my helpers," Wachter said, and turned on the snowblower. 

She nearly disappeared, her coat becoming a blurry yellow dot inside the dizzying plume of snow, which now no longer fell in the wrong direction--down--but instead, flew up and away.  

And, most importantly, out of the way.


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