Power restored to most of Long Island

March 17, 2010 5:40:57 PM PDT
Many of those without power may not have it until Friday and are wondering why is it taking so long? On Beech Street in Wantagh, homeowners woke up to a symphony of generators for fifth straight day.

"I can see a day or two. Five days. No power and no one is around to fix it? It's ridiculous," Ulfert Esen said.

Esen and his neighbors have been without power since Saturday's storm knocked a giant pine tree right onto the line that feeds the block.

Finally Wednesday morning, some progress as a power crew came to bring relief.

LIPA says over a quarter million customers lost power during the storm. By Wednesday afternoon 93 percent were back online.

The president of the nation's second largest public utility acknowledged the frustration of customers, but he says the response was actually lightning fast.

"When Long Island does get hit by a hurricane, even a category one, we're not talking days, folks. We're talking weeks that people will be out. It's really been a yeoman's effort," Kevin Law said.

Authorities admit it can be quite frustrating for people to see their neighbors get power before they do.

LIPA says it's report work is not as random as it might seem. It prioritizes to first repair power lines that serve the most homes and businesses at a time, to say nothing of hospitals and schools. Individual homes are last on the list.

That's why a live wire hung low in a North Massapequa yard, cutting power to one man's home until Wednesday.

"They fixed the wires. So now I got the heat working and the stove working. So I'm happy," the owner said.

While utility crews have been busy, it's not just the homes that took a beating.

Some of the beaches are simply unrecognizable. Punishing waves and severe wind have eroded the beaches.

State park officials who oversee the most populated beaches warn getting ready for the summer could be like swimming against the tide.

The storm's fury is visible to the naked eye. The dunes are getting higher as the beach front is swept away.

"It's totally gone. Even now, when it's low tide, most of the beach is gone. There's no place to put any blankets," George Gorman of the New York State Parks Department said.

Gorman said an emergency payload of sand will be moved to the beach in the coming weeks.