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Hundreds of cars stuck on Long Island Expressway

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Police in New York say hundreds of cars have gotten stuck on the Long Island Expressway during a massive snowstorm and dozens of disabled motorists are still on the road.

The massive Northeast storm battered Long Island with 2 ½ feet of snow, knocked out power to thousands there and stranded hundreds of motorists on its highways, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ask other towns and cities Saturday to send plows to help dig out the part of the state hit the hardest by far.

Drivers abandoned their vehicles on Long Island and even snowplows were mired in the snow or blocked by stuck cars, so emergency workers had to resort to snowmobiles to try to reach motorists.

About 200 people were stranded in cars Friday night in Suffolk County, which covers the eastern part of Long Island, and officials were asked why they didn't shut down highways in advance of the blizzard.

"The storm hit at a time when commuters were making their way back from the city, inching along" on the Long Island Expressway, said Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone. "The snow just swallowed them up. It came down so hard and so fast."

And closing highways is "not an easy call," Cuomo said, noting that people wanted to get home and that officials had warned them to take precautions because the worst of the snow could start by the evening rush hour. Flashing highway signs underscored the message ahead of time: "Heavy Snow Expected. Avoid PM Travel!"

"People need to act responsibly in these situations," Cuomo said.

Suffolk County was hit harder than neighboring Nassau County, a relief for communities that were flooded during last October's Superstorm Sandy. The Weather Service said coastal flooding did not create major problems during the new storm.

Upton had 30.3 inches of snow, Meteorologist David Stark said. Several other towns topped 2 feet: Setauket, Smithtown, Port Jefferson, Mount Sinai, Islip, Huntington and Commack.

In Nassau, by contrast, Wantagh reported 11 inches.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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