More than 470,000 customers on Long Island lost power Sunday after Tropical Storm Irene made landfall. The Long Island Power Authority said the figure is a record, surpassing one set only 17 months ago during a winter storm.
Crews worked throughout the day to restore power. In the Great Neck area of western Nassau County, power to about 45,000 residents failed around midday and was restored about 6:30 p.m., but only to some neighborhoods. LIPA crews continued to work throughout both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The outages escalated during Sunday as high winds toppled hundreds of trees throughout Long Island, home to about 2.5 million people. The top wind gust was 71 miles per hour at Center Moriches on the south shore, the National Weather Service said. Earlier, the highest gust was 67 mph at Bayville, on the north shore.Around 8 p.m. wind gusts were still coming from the west as high as 45 mph.
Besides darkening homes and businesses, the power failures imperiled drivers because traffic lights were out. Traffic was light. Nassau County police were on routine patrol.
Ed Mangano, the Nassau County Executive, said people who'd been evacuated from areas prone to flooding in places like Freeport, Baldwin and Oceanside on the south shore as well as Port Washington on the north shore could return home. He warned, You should only return to your home if your safety will not be put in jeopardy.
Mangano also ordered National Guard personnel to assist with flooding in the City of Long Beach, which fronts the Atlantic Ocean. Irene, degraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, made landfall slightly west of Long Beach, in Queens County, but storm surges damaged the beaches and many residences in Long Beach.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo paid a late Sunday visit to Long Beach to view storm damage.
Eastward, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said he was grateful there had been no apparent fatalities or injuries, the same as in Nassau. Mangano said It might take a month to evaluate the economic damage of Irene. Nassau, which is under financial oversight by the Nassau Interim Financial Authority, derives about half of annual revenue from a county sales tax. Retailers are holding back-to-school promotions this week.
Public officials were assessing damage to Long Island's many parks and beaches. In Great Neck, Park District Chairman Ivar Segalowitz toured all the parks, including Steppingstone Park at the tip of the peninsula, in Kings Point. Workers had pulled in floating piers in its marina and dismantled a large stage used for summer musical perfomances.Steppingstone sustained no damage but large trees were felled in nearby Kings Point Park as well as in Allenwood Park, about two miles south, officials said.
In the parking lot at Steppingstone Sunday night, boaters were tinkering with their boats that had been hastily pulled out of Long Island Sound Friday.
New York State park officials said they would assess flood damage and dunes erosion at Long Island's nationally known beaches, including Jones Beach State Park in Nassau County and Robert Moses State Park in Suffolk County. They said Irene's storm surge early Sunday had caused major erosion.
Newsday reported several Fire Island residential communities such as Kismet and Point O'Woods had suffered severe washouts.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it had no timetable when service on either the Long Island Rail Road, the nation's largest commuter line, or Long Island Bus, will restart. Both services transport more than 420,000 daily passengers.
However, the N58 bus was seen ready to start its route at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point. The route ends at the Great Neck train station.
At Temple Israel, where power had not yet been restored, about a dozen worshipers participated in an outdoor evening service, conducted with flashlights. The brief service was led by Associate Rabbi Seth Adelson who on Friday had sent members of the 930-member Conservative congregation a note against reading misguided interpretations into then-Hurrican Irene.
While God makes possible the physical forces that surround us that make the patterns of weather possible, God does not micro-manage, sending destructive storms here and sunny, mild weather there, Adelson wrote. The weather and the destruction it may wreak is not dependent upon God's mood or indeed, our behavior.
Adelson said he was concerned about local residents from Kings Point who had been evacuated to Great Neck North High School. Congregant Fran Langsner, vice president of the Great Neck School Board, assured him the 30 people who had spent Saturday night at the school had been adequately cared for.