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Downed Trees Still Problematic In NYC, L.I. Days After Irene

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A downed tree is seen after Irene - Upper Brookville, NY - Sep 2, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

A downed tree is seen after Irene – Upper Brookville, NY – Sep 2, 2011 (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

UPPER BROOKVILLE, NY (WCBS 880 / AP) - Some of the trees that came down on Long Island as a result of Hurricane Irene are so big you can’t get your arms around the trunks.

WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane In Upper Brookville

They’ve been cut up and pushed to the side of the road for crews pick up but that doesn’t seem to be the case in many areas.

Some residents have been expressing anger, others disbelief.  They argue that there has been poor communication from authorities and utilities while others say things have been handled well.

Downed trees have also been a problem across New York City.

Officials at the Central Park Conservancy said about 70 trees were affected in the park and crews are currently checking for limbs that are cracked or in danger of falling.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa Reports From Central Park

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said the trees have been blocking streets and sitting on houses, especially in Queens.

“Queens was the hardest hit.  Of the 9,000 calls we got, almost 5,000 were from Queens alone,” he told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.

By Saturday, Benepe says all streets should be cleared and that extra crews are working to get trees off houses by next week.

Meanwhile, because hotel rooms on Long Island were booked in advance for the busy Labor Day weekend, the 2,600 men and women who traveled from other states, including Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, to assist LIPA with turning the lights back on will be moved to shelters run by the Red Cross.

WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall: Out-Of-State Help On Long Island

LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey says space has opened since people have been able to return to their homes or find other accommodations.

Some of the crews will be staying at Nassau Community College.

About 89,000 Long Island Power Authority customers are still without power.

The company says it will have 3,000 line crews and tree trimmers working 16-hour shifts throughout the Labor day weekend restoring power.

LIPA spokesperson Vanessa Baird-Streeter understands the frustration many Long Islanders feel.

“We know you want your power back on, we’re working as hard as we can but there has been mass devastation on Long Island in reference to Hurricane Irene and the effects of Hurricane Irene,” she told 1010 WINS. “We’re working around the clock, we have all of our personnel deployed to assist in restoration efforts.”

She advises lone customers without power in neighborhoods that have been restored to call 1-800-490-0075 to report the outage.

At the height of Tropical Storm Irene, LIPA says 523,000 customers were affected.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs In Southampton

Last weekend was a washout in the Hamptons, and summer fun business owners are worried the effects of Hurricane Irene could hurt this long holiday weekend as well.

“It’s very important. We count on these holiday weekends. Unfortunately, we think that so many people were evacuated and we’re wondering if they think it’s worth it to come back just for a three-day weekend,” said Southampton shopkeeper Kathy Coglin.

The beaches have been cleaned and the roads cleared.

While some power outages do remain, businessmen say surf’s up, and they’re hoping the crowds turn out.

“We really do count on Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day as our three big weekends since it really is a seasonal business in this town,” she told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

“This money has to last me through January, February, March or it could get real bad out here,” said Mark Zucchero, who owns the Flying Point Surf Shop.

The American Red Cross will distribute food and cleaning supplies at two locations in Suffolk County this weekend.

WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall In Freeport

The Salvation Army wants to give those people who have been living in the dark a cozy place to relax for a few hours.

At the location in Freeport, they are giving anyone who walks a hot meal, coffee, tea, soda and a place to recharge their cell phones – free of charge.

“We are not a restaurant, but we do serve our seniors every day at 12:30. So, we’re more than willing to, you know, add another cup of water to the soup and just make it stretch,” said Salvation Army Major Mary Moore.

This location will also be open throughout the day and evening hours on Saturday.

The Red Cross says it will operate support sites in Babylon and in Bay Shore from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteers will hand out self-heating meals, water, snacks and cleanup supplies.

Tens of thousands of people in Suffolk County on Long Island are still without power five days after Tropical Storm Irene slammed the region.

New York’s Nassau County residents and business owners recovering from the storm are now eligible for federal disaster assistance.

Nassau, Westchester and Rensselaer counties were at first left off the list of New York counties eligible for expedited assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Suffolk County is still awaiting approval for aid.

The aid means low-interest loans will be available to homes owners, renters and businesses from the Small Business Administration. In addition, residents can apply for FEMA grants up to $30,200.

FEMA had previously agreed to help Long Island local governments with the cost of emergency management, storm cleanup and damage to public property.

FEMA spokesman Mike McCormick told Newsday it’s normal for the agency to take several days to determine a county’s eligibility for aid.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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