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Cleanup, Power Restoration Begins On Long Island After Irene’s Visit

Waves are seen crashing around homes as Hurricane Irene arrives on August 28, 2011 in Hampton Bays, New York. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Waves are seen crashing around homes as Hurricane Irene arrives on August 28, 2011 in Hampton Bays, New York. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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HAMPTON BAYS, NY (CBSNewYork) – Irene wreaked havoc on parts of Long Island Sunday morning despite losing its hurricane strength by the time it reached New York City. Local officials said they had started the process of cleaning up after the storm.

PHOTOS: Hurricane Irene | Facebook Fan Pics

Nassau County executive Ed Mangano stressed to residents on Long Island that dangerous conditions still existed, despite the Irene long gone.

“I just want the public to understand, there are still dangers out there. While it looks very nice out, the roads are not very passable,” Mangano said at a news conference on Sunday.

Mangano said cleaning up from the storm could take weeks and called it a “monumental task.” He added it could take about a month to assess what economic damage Irene may have done to the county. He said the county had its debris management plan in place, which included clearing trees and other debris from streets and highways and pumping out flooded streets.

Suffolk County executive Steve Levy said Long Islanders dodged a bullet with a less-fierce hurricane than what was originally estimated.

“We were expecting possibly much more a high Category 1 or low Category 2 and makes a very big difference,” said Levy. “Much less rain than we anticipated in Suffolk and wind gusts that reached 65 mph, 70 mph but was more manageable than the 90 mph, 95 mph, 100 mph that we might have otherwise have gotten.”

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On LIPA’s Situation

This is the most outages the Long Island Power Authority has seen in 26 years.  As of 5 p.m., LIPA was reporting 421,530 without power. CEO Michael Hervey said he knows it is frustrating to hear, but he does not have restoration times for customers.

“We have to first of all clear roads. Then we have to start to rebuild the system,” he said Sunday. “There are some areas that we just don’t have access to.”

Hervey said history shows that crews should be able to the power back on for most customers within 48 hours. There are over 1,300 people working on the lines, including workers from out of state.

Adding to LIPA’s problems, outage call center has been hit with phone troubles. Customers were unable to get through.

Heavy flooding was reported in Southampton. Waves crashed onto roads and surrounded homes along the coastline. Boats were also washed ashore in some spots.

In Long Beach, strong winds and heavy rains knocked down trees and flooded streets. Elevators and the lobby in an area hotel were also completely flooded with knee-deep water.

Some folks who’ve never seen a hurricane before came out to the beach to watch the storm come in. Waves lifted a lifeguard stand right off the sand.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports from Long Beach

In Hampton Bays, the water was rising very fast. An elderly couple had to be rescued as flood waters threatened their home.

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Jones Beach Long Island - Aug 28, 2011 (credit: Mike Gronenthal)

In Cold Spring Hills, many drivers got their vehicles stuck in flooded waters. One man’s car got stuck in waist-high water on the Jericho Turnpike as he was driving to work.

“The wind and rain created an illusion and I thought that it was just wet not flooded in the middle of the road and before
I knew it, I was stuck in three-feet high water,” he said.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports

In Hempstead, town supervisor Kate Murray said there were reports of at least 65 trees down and multiple homes without electricity.

“The moment the wind subsides I think is when we’ll really start our work,” she said. “Removing all the trees and helping LIPA with the downed wires.”