"The reality is people wanted to get home," he said. "The storm happened at the worst time."
It wasn't just the roads that were impacted. Cleanup was under way on the area's commuter rails, the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad.
Service was restored on two of Metro-North's three lines, said Salvatore Arena, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the railroad. Service on the third line, which runs between New York City and New Haven, Conn., will run on a normal weekday schedule on Monday between Grand Central Terminal and Stamford. Between Stamford and New Haven, trains will operate at about half of the normal weekday rush hour service level.
On the LIRR, service was mostly restored, except on the eastern parts of Long Island. On Monday, LIRR will operate on a nearly-normal weekday service, with some cancellations planned.
"A lot of progress has been made," Arena said.
Bellone said Suffolk County's school districts would individually decide whether to open or close. Newsday reported Sunday afternoon that nine districts had decided to close on Monday.
The Long Island Power Authority reported outages on Long Island had dwindled to about 400 customers by Sunday night.
The rapid pace of restoration was a far cry from Superstorm Sandy in late October, but officials pointed out that the storms were different, as were the scale of the outages. Sandy left 1.1 million customers in the dark.
A spokeswoman for National Grid, which is handling the restoration work, said some things had been done differently to allow for as quick a restoration as possible, like getting workers from off of Long Island in place before the storm hit to be able to help out.
"That was a huge improvement in terms of restoration," Wendy Ladd said. She said 600 workers had been brought in from elsewhere to supplement the 400 workers on Long Island.
Matthew Cordaro, current chairman of the LIPA Oversight Committee for the Suffolk County Legislature, said there was no comparison between the weather events.
"Snow generally doesn't pose any significant threat to the system. So no, I'm not surprised at the outcome. I don't think they did exceptionally well for the nature of the storm — average at best," he said.
Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik in New York City contributed to this report.