Isaias Impact: Widespread damage and power outages across Long Island

ByKristin Thorne and Stacey Sager WABC logo
Friday, August 7, 2020
Isaias: Widespread damage and power outages across Long Island
Some 105,000 remained without power on Long Island Thursday after Tropical Storm Isaias caused widespread damage, downing trees and power lines and leaving almost half of PSEG's 1.

LONG ISLAND (WABC) -- Some 105,000 remained without power on Long Island Friday after Tropical Storm Isaias caused widespread damage, downing trees and power lines and leaving almost half of PSEG's 1.1 million customers in the dark at the peak of the outages.

The hardest-hit area on the North Shore is Glen Cove, where half of residents still do not have power.

"We have not seen or heard a PSEG truck anywhere," Glen Cove resident Sandy Schlimer said. "My mom is 87. We're in a hot house. I'm all electric. I had to throw out everything in the fridge and the freezer this morning."

RELATED | Isaias turns deadly in NYC as trees come down across the 5 boroughs

Schlimer's neighbor Amy Peters said that following Superstorm Sandy, homes on Harwood Drive East were without power for 14 days.

"We're praying that doesn't happen again," she said. "They keep saying tomorrow, tomorrow, and every day we check, and it's tomorrow again."

PSEG officials said 2,000 crews are working 16-hour shifts to restore power to customers on Long Island. Officials estimate 85% of customers will be back online by the end of the day Friday.

Residents who live on Gables Court in Dix Hills are trapped in their homes because of downed power lines and trees. They said they have been unable to get a clear answer from PSEG about when the debris will be removed and said they worry if an emergency occurs on the block because emergency crews would not be able to get through.

At a senior apartment complex in Wantagh, power was finally restored at 3 p.m. Thursday. It took a day of phone calls from local officials, including state Senator Kevin Thomas (D-Garden City) to get East Over Gardens put on the priority list.

"It's not right, you know, it's not right that we had to wait this long to have our electricity restored," resident Silvio La Marca said.

Felicia Tigh said she worries about her neighbors in the complex.

"It has been hard for people that need oxygen and more care," she said. "They have to have ambulances come and take them to a hospital."

The Nassau County legislature announced on Thursday it will be holding a hearing next week to question PSEG on how it handled the outages citing lack of preparedness and communication.

"I have called on the leadership team of PSEG to announce plans for a post recovery review of communications protocols and to devise a backup plan," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

The hearing is set for Thursday, August 13.

"The amount of debris is mountainous," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, credited the DPW for their many hours of work to help keep roads clear. "Our DPW crews are getting it done."

Almost all county roads are cleared, she said, but several traffic lights are out across the county. Drivers should treat those intersections as a four-way stop.

"Our goal, always, is to restore power safely and as quickly as possible," PSEG said in a statement. "Crews will work to restore critical facilities first, followed by outages affecting the largest number of customers, and then address outages affecting small numbers of individual customers."

In Hempstead, the town supervisor ranks the damage right up there with Superstorm Sandy.

"You know what with trees down, we are comparable with Sandy right now," Don Clavin said. "We didn't get the rain or flooding, but trees down, an enormous amount. We won't be surprised if we see 500-700 trees down."

An 80-foot Oaktree came toppling down and destroyed one house in Manhasset, sending the owners running for their lives. Joe Bzezinski has lived here on Crab Apple Road for the last 27 years and said he has never seen anything like this.

"I grabbed my wife, and we ran out of the house with the clothes on our back," he said. "And that was it."

Fortunately, neither was injured, but the house and others in different spots in Flower Hill and Manhasset have huge trees ripped from the roots, some sitting right next to other homes with no damage.

George Mueger, of Huntington, helped his father clean their yard on Wednesday.

Sam Ryan reports from Suffolk County as crews work to restore power

"Three trees came down, so it's going to be a lot to clean up," he said.

Tim Joyce, of Huntington, said he expects to be without power for two to three days.

"Some of the neighbors have generators," he said. "Of course, we do not. So we've been doing the candlelight thing and cooked on the barbecue last night."

Stacey Sager reports on the cleanup efforts on Long Island.

PSEG said Isaias was one of the strongest storms to reach the service area in years. The Nassau County legislature announced on Thursday it will hold a hearing August 13 to question PSEG on its handling of the tropical storm.

PSEG Long Island President Daniel Eichhorn fought back against claims that the utility was not prepared for the large tropical storm.

"We continue to make progress," Eichhorn said on Thursday afternoon during a Zoom press conference. "If you're still out, (these words) really doesn't mean that much."

Eichhorn also addressed criticism that residents are unable to get through to representatives at PSEG to report outages or to check their outage status.

"It's not the experience we want for our customers," he said.

Eichhorn said he believes the majority of the communication issues have been resolved and most people are able to get in touch with PSEG representatives.

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