MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Fewer than 5,000 PSEG Long Island customers remained without electricity late Wednesday, a day after a powerful thunderstorm swept through the area.

As of 9 p.m., a total of 4,352 customers were still without power, down from 9,669 earlier in the day.

The utility had reported earlier that most of the outages were in Brookhaven, Smithtown and Southold, all of which sustained severe damage to trees, power lines and utility poles.

“We have everyone working on this,” PSEG spokesman Jeffery Weir told 1010 WINS. “Every available resource has been deployed to that area.”

PHOTOS: Long Island Storm Damage

Con Edison and Orange & Rockland utilities are helping PSEG Long Island restore power. More than 80,000 customers lost power during the height of the outages.

Crews worked through the night clearing the countless trees and power lines that came crashing down during Tuesday morning’s storm, CBS2’s Andrea Gyrmes reported. The utility says it hopes to have everyone back on the grid by late Wednesday night.

North Shore roads were still littered Wednesday with massive trees wrapped around electric lines pulling down poles. First responders were directing traffic as there were jams a mile long through winding two-lane village streets.

“It’s horrible,” a driver said. “If there was an emergency, it would be big trouble.”

 

The storm cut a 50-mile swath from Smithtown to Southold. Meteorologists determined it wasn’t a tornado, but actually a straight-line wind, with near tropical storm strength at more than 70 miles per hour, that blew through around 5 a.m. Tuesday.

“This is worse than Sandy,” Stony Brook homeowner Donald Richtberg told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan. “We lost six trees up there. They’re about 200 years old. And it’s a mess.”

“As the hail came down and the lights were flashing, it was a horrific storm,” said St. James homeowner Laurie Kassay. “It really was.”

“I’m thinking I’ve never been so terrified, not even in the hurricane,” one Setauket homeowner told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

Trees toppled over on California Avenue in Port Jefferson, crushing the Lovera’s car and their home’s roof, narrowly missing the family.

“We heard the window explode, then a big bang, and my daughter was screaming,” said Frank Lovera.

The Mann family of Setauket were asleep in their Settlers Way home when massive trees came crashing down, piercing through their study and destroying their deck.

“An upstairs bedroom is pretty much crushed. The roof is gone pretty much,” said Charles Mann.

From the ground to high in the sky over the Manns’ home, crews worked to clear debris Wednesday from the massive trees that came crashing down.

The couple sorted through clothes after spending the night at a hotel. They were waiting to hear if the rear of their house is structurally sound.

“They haven’t yet told us if even when the power comes back we will be able to live in the house while the work is being done,” Barbara Mann said.

Across the street, Richard Meisenheimer admits he was lucky. He has some trees down in his yard, but nowhere near damage his neighbors have experienced.

“Beyond lucky is right,” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

Meisenheimer is also one of thousands across Suffolk’s North Shore who are waiting for power to come back.

“I understand. This is major damage,” he said. “You can’t expect them to have something up over night.”

Meanwhile, Smithtown resident Lenny Newman was one of the few homeowners in his neighborhood who still didn’t have power restored Wednesday morning.

“We’re not very happy,” he told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “Part of a tree broke off and damaged my chimney. There are two trees in the backyard that are down on the PSEG power line. We haven’t seen anybody here since the start.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine called PSEG to the carpet late Tuesday, complaining that the response was slow.

“It’s hard to clear roads when you have wires that are live draped across them,” Romaine told McLogan. “So focusing some attention on some of those shortcomings helped because PSEG found a way to be far more helpful.”

Romaine said he now sees many of the 1,000 crew members on the job.

Meanwhile, the health commissioner is warning residents not to eating foods that have been thawed in refrigerators or freezers.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 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.)