GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — On Long Island, about 89,000 customers remain in the dark as of Thursday night, but there is some power progress being made. CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez was there as the lights came back in one Nassau County neighborhood.
The power returned to a part of East Meadow that had been in the dark and living by candlelight and generators for nearly one week. The lights are finally on and people are celebrating.
“Very excited. It’s been a long time without power,” said Rebecca Katz.
LIPA has a massive army of crews working around the clock and the power authority said less than 100,000 customers are still without power. Many are in Glen Cove, where power lines are still down.
David Berger has lights and a cold refrigerator thanks to his generator. Berger’s wife spoke with LIPA operators Thursday, but had no luck finding out when they’d finally have power restored.
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“I know what they have to do. There’s some poles down in a fairly inaccessible area, So I’m hoping for the best but planning for the worst,” Berger said.
On day five of the outage, the outrage over LIPA’s lack of communication was growing.
At this point, Doug Browski, of Hicksville, has resigned to being powerless. “The damage is done now, all the food and everything is lost.”
Many Long Islanders feel LIPA should’ve had localized information about restoring power. LIPA Chief Michael Hervey said the entire hurricane response will be reviewed once power is restored for everyone.
“We identified the problem early on, and we identified our frustration early on so we certainly need to go back and look at what we need to do differently,” Hervey said.
He added the utility has done everything in its power to communicate with customers. For some, the experience is strengthening community ties.
“Cathy and I, we love camping, so this is kind of like a little throwback for us, doing the things out on the deck and camping and all the things like that,” George Fanno of Plainview told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
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Tropical Storm Irene initially knocked out power to more than 523,000 people across Long Island.
“At night it’s really dark and hard to see around the whole house and some of the street lights are off, so you can’t even see outside,” Marc Ventre of Garden City told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan. But even in that darkness, he sees a bright side.
“I also like that most of the people are outside right now, and we’re all together so it’s better,” Ventre said.
It has been a neighborhood bonding experience for the Ventre family. They and their fellow Garden City neighbors have been eating together by candlelight.
“Dinner for everybody on this side of the block,” resident Laura Ventre told McLogan.
The Village of Garden City is investigating whether it was a microburst or a tornado that tore down power wires and toppled trees.
People understand it was quite a storm. They just wonder how much longer they’re going to have to live like this.
“You got to look at this as: hey, this is life. I’m safe, my family’s safe, thank God nothing happened to my house, so I’m taking it in stride,” Fanno said.
The frustration on Long Island has even turned criminal. A Hicksville man was arrested for allegedly calling the Nassau County Department or Emergency Management and threatening LIPA. The suspect is said to have been irate because he hasn’t had power in days.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall In Manhasset
In Manhasset, crews from the town of North Hempstead removed the fallen trees left on homes and streets. Some even destroyed sidewalks.
North Hempstead supervisor Jon Kaiman said he wants to help Long Island Power Authority crews do their jobs more efficiently, so his residents can get out of the dark.
“When they get to a site where they need to get to a wire, instead of waiting for their crews, which are otherwise engaged and really overwhelmed, they can get right to the wires and then get on to the next site,” Kaiman said.
The town’s tree crews removed hundreds of trees on Wednesday.
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs At The Hicksville LIRR Station
Meanwhile, other aspects of life on Long Island are finally getting back to normal. The Long Island Rail Road restored full service on all branches Thursday morning. Following Irene, the agency was faced with flooding and fallen trees which snarled its operations.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall In Huntington
In the village of Huntington, many restaurants, including a pizza shop, lost all of their food supply because they had no power. Health inspectors will be heading out to make sure restaurants threw away all their perishables.
Rep. Steve Israel is calling on FEMA to expedite the approval of small business disaster loans.
He met a health food business owner in Sayville who lost $15,000 worth of food.
“Once the declaration is made by FEMA, virtually any businesses can apply for the loans. The loans are low interest at no more than 4 percent,” said Israel. “When you think about the impact of this disaster, it wasn’t just losing power. Many of these small businesses lost customers. They lost product. They lost inventory. The SBA has emergency disaster loans to help them get back on their feet and we should not let red tape prevent these loans from being applied.”
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs In Bay Shore
At the Fire Island ferry terminals in Bay Shore, homeowners are heading back to check on their property for the first time after Hurricane Irene.
Steve Ingram says neighbors have told him things look okay.
“I expected a lot of rain and some wind and that’s what we got and was just hoping that it wouldn’t be catastrophic and it wasn’t,” he said.
Ingram says he’s so lucky and refuses to let the storm push him away from the beach.
Selma Abramowitz and her husband Jerry feel as though they dodged a bullet with this storm and they have renewed respect for the power of nature.
“Mother Nature is the boss,” she said.
How should people prepare for extended power outages? Sound off in our comments section below…