CORTLANDT, N.Y. - As Hurricane Sandy marches northward, government officials remember the Oct. 29, 2011 snowstorm, nicknamed "Snowtober," which dumped more than 12 inches of snow on northern Westchester, canceled trick-or-treating and cost the Town of Cortlandt hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Some residents say they still haven't recovered from the devastating storm.
"Just for myself, some of my trees that fell are still laying there. They are some of the tall, thinner ones," said Ellen Zawaski, a Crugers resident. "Unless it did damage, your insurance company isn't going to come for fallen trees. I didn't totally recover, but I was lucky I didn't lose my house."
Cortlandt Town Comptroller Glenn Cestaro said the October snowstorm cost the town $400,000 in brush removal alone, largely in overtime and private contractor costs. Unlike Hurricane Irene, the town will not be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the storm.
In Croton, Con Edison reported 28 percent of the village was without power at one point, and thousands in Cortlandt were without power. The Black Cow Coffee Company became a hub for cell phone and laptop charging, a retreat from darkened homes and destruction in backyards.
In an especially dangerous incident, a utility pole was snapped in half on Brook Street in Croton, splaying wires across the street and trapping residents in their homes without power.
Croton Mayor Leo Wiegman said the village has streamlined preparing for such storms, setting up emergency operations centers at the Stanley H. Kellerhouse Municipal Building and, when there is warning, prepping days in advance.
"There'll definitely be future storms," Wiegman said. "Severe weather events are increasing and becoming more intense with heavier precipitation wells. And that's at least partly driven by shifts in weather patterns due to climate disruption. We're going to get more storms, they're going to have more wind and they’re going to have more moisture," he said.
Wiegman called "Snowtober" one of the three most destructive weather events in the village in the last decade.
Hurricane Irene, followed by the October snowstorm, caused governments to refine emergency response systems, officials said. However, whether the weather events will happen with more frequency remains a point of debate.
"This was an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime storm," Cestaro said. "Why raise taxes if we don't have to? If the trend continues, then it' something for the town board to consider, but these are 100-year storms," he said.
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