Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine has been out of town on vacation since Wednesday, his spokesman Jack Krieger confirmed for Patch.
His exact location is unknown. Also unknown is who Romaine, a Republican, has been communicating with during and after the storm. It is also not known whether Romaine attempted to return to Long Island prior to or after the storm, and if he was even able to do so.
Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld and Councilwoman Kathy Walsh both said they have not seen or heard from Romaine during the blizzard or afterwards - and say it is having an impact on cleanup across Brookhaven.
“It does have an impact when the leader of a township who has the authority to take command of all departments, and marshal all forces and resources is not at Town Hall,” said Fiore-Rosenfeld, a Democrat. “Clearly, his lack of presence at the helm is not helpful to our ability to respond to residents and their concerns about being snowed in and trapped in their homes.”
The councilman on Sunday wrote a scathing letter to Romaine and acting Highway Superintendent Michael Murphy calling it a "a complete and systematic breakdown in the ability of the Town Highway Department to respond to this crisis."
Walsh, who said she spent the weekend answering calls from residents at the Town's Emergency Operations Center, said many roads in her council district had not gotten a first pass from snowplows as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and she could not provide an answer as to why that was.
“Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a whole lot of information shared and I’m just as frustrated as residents,” Walsh said.
Councilman Daniel Panico, who was named deputy supervisor in January replacing Walsh, has been running the town in Romaine's absence.
“Dan Panico has been very helpful," Fiore-Rosenfeld said. "He’s new on the job and is doing the best he can, but he’s not the supervisor or superintendent of highways.”
Panico has not responded to multiple calls from Patch since Saturday afternoon.
Murphy has reportedly been out on a medical leave of absence during the storm, according to Walsh. Like Panico, he is newly appointed to that position following the resignation of John Rouse in January.
This leaves Town Board members asking who is in control of the Highway Department during this crisis.
“I want to praise the average highway worker, who in the last two to three days has in some cases only gotten two hours of sleep,” Fiore-Rosenfeld said. “If people in my neighborhood haven’t gotten their streets plowed, it’s not their fault. It’s the lack of leadership in Town.”