FORT HAMILTON, N.Y. - A major winter storm struck the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, creating near-blizzard conditions along the coast, forcing many to stay home and telework. Despite the conditions, essential members of the garrison staff came together and persevered through the snow, sleet, wind, and power outage in order to ensure the safety and convenience of the installation’s residents and workforce.
Snow began falling Sunday night and continued through Tuesday, and according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 18.2 inches of snow fell in the Bay Ridge/Fort Hamilton area. Residents were urged to stay in their homes, public transportation was shut down, and the city was under a state of emergency as it faced what could be the top-20 biggest snowstorm impacting New York City; the biggest snowstorm was in 2016 with 27.5 inches of snowfall.
Since Sunday afternoon, members of Fort Hamilton’s Crisis Action Team closely monitored the storm’s development and had their personnel positioned properly to respond if required. The CAT included staff from the Directorate of Public Works, as well as their base operations contractor, Re-Engineered Business Solutions, Inc. DPW has a contract with RBS to provide base operating services such as building maintenance and repairs, as well as municipal services like refuse pick-up, tree trimming, and grass cutting.
“I am proud of the work the RBS team did in freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions clearing roads, sidewalks, and parking lots to ensure the post could function,” Molly Evans, DPW director. “They really came through for us and I appreciate their dedication.”
Carmine Russolillo, Re-Engineered Business Solutions project manager and emergency point of contact, and his team played a major role in the snow removal. Carmine’s crew of consisted of 43 RBS employees who took on extra hours and duties in addition to their normal shifts, often resulting in long hours, little sleep, and extended periods away from home.
"I am extremely proud of my team, and they deserve all the credit,” said Russolillo. These guys worked 16-18-hour days, all week, in the snow and the cold without hesitation or question. Above all else, they cleared over 18" of snow, for two days straight, with zero accidents or damage to property. It is easy to get overwhelmed, and attempt to work too quickly, but safety is a big initiative for RBS and the entire team made sure to get the job done safely. "
Carmine and his team worked around the clock, arriving on post as early as 2:30 am to start their work, which included applying a thermal barrier of rock salt to the roadways; plowing roads and sidewalks; reading portable generators; and clearing out priority parking areas (Child Development Center, Child and Youth Services, and Directorate of Emergency Services). Employees were able to return to work Feb. 3, but snow could still be seen blanketing areas throughout the installation.
"The biggest challenge with a storm of this size is the snow continuously falling for 30 plus hours straight,” Russolillo adds. “Usually we get quick hitters…we clear the snow once and it’s done. With this storm, you work all day, break for lunch, and then see the snow just cover it all back up again. It can be frustrating when it looks like nothing was accomplished, but it needs to get done throughout the duration of the storm in order to stay ahead of the accumulation and not let it pile up on the streets and sidewalks."
“I want to give a huge thanks to Carmine and his team,” said Col. Craig Martin, Fort Hamilton Garrison Commander. “It was a brutal storm and they kept rowing the entire time. Fort Hamilton can get back to our mission without any concerns, thanks to this superior effort. Lots of other folks across the garrison staff continued working through this storm as well. We had folks rolling their sleeves up in support or otherwise just doing what they always do well but also in a blizzard! Immensely proud of this Team!”
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation coordinated three square meals daily for the snow crew, and the Logistics Readiness Center’s mechanics repaired two snow removal equipment. The LRC had four mechanics working the entire storm with two remaining on post to provide 24-hour support.
“The MWR team strives to support the mission and our teammates, regardless of the circumstances,” said Trevor Loew, FMWR director. “I am very proud of the team and their dedicated efforts. One team, one fight.”
The snow crew is still clearing snowing and ice, and they advise people to stay clear for safety purposes when the equipment is at work.
Russolillo shares, "It would really help the team if our community members stay off the roads, stay home, and let the team do their job. Lesser foot and vehicle traffic gives us more space to work with less obstacles to go around, reducing the chance of accidents."
In addition, residents and staff are asked to park in a manner that leaves space for roads and parking lots to be plowed and to be mindful of staying visible as possible, for example by wearing reflective gear and carrying flashlights.