Long Island Cleaning Up After Irene Passes; Thousands Still Without Power
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Tropical Storm Irene walloped Long Island over the weekend with the winds causing major problems after knocking down trees and power lines.
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs In Lindenhurst
In Long Beach, trees were no match for wild winds. They were ripped out from the ground by their roots taking a thick carpet of green grass along with them.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said about 300 trees were down with 100 of those wrapped up in power lines.
“It’s a frustrating time for lots of folks but we’re out in the street, we’ve been out almost constantly since yesterday morning and we will continue to do the job until the last tree is removed,” Murray said.
Farther out east in Lindenhurst in Suffolk County, water turned Wellwood Avenue into a river for inflatable rafts.
In Hampton Bays, an elderly couple had to be rescued as flood waters threatened their home.
Long Island may have experienced a storm surge six to 10 feet above normal. Murray said they have been checking out the damage at Lido Beach and Point Lookout.
“Luckily enough, the storm surge and the breaches in the dunes were much more minimized than we had feared,” Murray said.
“There’s certainly some beach erosion,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said. “There was a couple of areas where it looks like the beach had been breached. There was less damage to homes than I had feared so I was very relieved to see less damage than we really expected.”
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Beach
Dozens and dozens of sharp metal support poles now stand alone, protruding from the beach at Robert Moses State Park.
The snow fencing it once held up was crushed by the pounding surf.
“It was hit pretty bad. [It] took a lot of our beach away and cut into the dunes as you can see. We’ve got snow fence for probably the past ten years, if we had to try to get out, because it’s really dangerous,” said lifeguard lieutenant Paul Lundwall.
Some pieces of very sharp debris barely poke out of the sand, but if you stepped on one of those pieces, you’d know it very quickly and you would not like it.
“Oh, really dangerous, dangerous,” he said.
The still pounding surf is gouging out long stretches of beach and the dunes as officials continue their assessment of nature’s fury and dozens of workers are on cleanup duty.
The area experienced its largest outage in 26 years and power is expected to take days to get service back on line.
By midday Monday, Nassau County still had about 100 traffic lights out because of power outages.
“We’ve had survey and assessment personnel out all yesterday assessing damage and that is critical and key to us being able to restore power,” Baird-Streeter said. ”We had at the height of the storm about 500,000 customers without power. We’ve been restoring over the night and we’ll continue to work around the clock to restore power to our customers.”
The outages were equally spread between Nassau and Suffolk counties. The utility said it hopes to have 90 percent of its customer outages restored by Friday, while the remaining 10 percent would be restored by the weekend or early next week.
Power will first be restored to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and colleges. The cost of repairs is unknown but officials estimate millions each day.
WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall: Hospitals Weren’t Spared
In the cotinuing power outage problems on Long Island, town of Brookhaven supervisor Marc Lesko said there is no electricity in parts of Mather Hosptal.
“I’m making an official request on behalf of the town to LIPA. They need to make Mather Hospital a priority. Mather is without power. Their outpatient chemotherapy and blood transfusion departments cannot operate. Their radiology is down. They can’t do catscans. They can’t do MRIs,” he said.
In many of the intersections in Brookhaven, officers are directing traffic at the intersections because of the power outage.
Although residents of Fire Island were under a mandatory evacuation, no homes were damaged.
The biggest problem is Davis Park on Fire Island, where half of the docks were destroyed.
With hundreds of thousands of people without power, residents are finding ways to keep perishables cold. For those without electricity, the big need now is ice.
A “sold-out” sign taped to the icebox outside the 7-Eleven in Copaigue proves ice is a hot commodity as people assess damage, clean up and make repairs.
The Long Island Rail Road got off to a slow start Monday morning after a system-wide shutdown by the MTA which went into effect at noon Saturday. Half of the system remained suspended while the six operating branches experienced delays due to residual effects caused by Irene. Click here for more from the MTA.
Sonia Chandaraballi said she was more than an hour late for work at Jamaica Hospital because of the LIRR.
Extra staff at Jamaica station have tried to help commuters as they watched service notices on the monitors which showed countless suspensions due to damage and flooding.
Barry Cupid’s usual half hour commute stretched into hours.
WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall On LIRR Service At The Hicksville Station
An evacuation order has been lifted in Nassau County. Up to 1,800 people sought shelter at Nassau Community College at the height of the storm. About 100 evacuees remained by midday Monday.
The area saw one death.
Joseph Rocco, 68, of East Slip, drowned while windsurfing in Bellport Bay Sunday afternoon, police said. Rocco went under water and was discovered on the shore by a bystander. He was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center.
Nassau County executive Ed 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.
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