Hurricane Gloria hits tri-state area in 1985, plunging Long Island into power crisis

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The last week of September 1985 was an eventful one in the New York area as Hurricane Gloria churned toward the region.

News coverage of the story was intense as we prepared for a storm that had peaked as a Category 4 system farther south. Ahead of Gloria's arrival in the metropolitan area, schools were closed, thousands were evacuated, hurricane tape went up on countless windows and the entire region prepared for the worst tropical lashing since Hurricane Donna in 1960.

The storm made landfall between Kennedy Airport and Islip, Long Island on Sept. 27 as a much weaker system than had been feared, but the trouble was only beginning for much of the area.

Gloria still produced intense storm surge and strong winds, dealing a crippling blow to Long Island and Connecticut, where Gloria wiped out power and telephone service for weeks in many places.

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Connecticut, the city and New Jersey certainly weren't spared, but the big story -- which got bigger by the day -- was the damage Gloria left on Long Island.

Several people died, houses and businesses were damaged or destroyed, thousands of trees were felled, and power lines tumbled, leaving utility crews scrambling to restore service. Relief was slow to come. It took weeks for everyone to get service back, and LILCO, the electricity provider on Long Island, sustained withering criticism for its handling of the recovery, criticism that prompted its eventual demise.

The patience and good will of hundreds of thousands of people were tested as well, as you can see in WABC's coverage as presented in the 11 p.m. Eyewitness News of Saturday, Sept. 28, 1985, the day after the storm blew through, and the day that the severity of the problems facing Long Island become unmistakably clear.
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