A powerful storm caused power outages to more than 74,000 homes and businesses in northern Suffolk County early Tuesday morning—some of which will remain in the dark for days, officials said.
Although the majority of those who lost power have had it restored, about 20,000 remained blacked out at sundown Tuesday with about half of those still expected to be without power Wednesday, according to PSEG Long Island. The remaining estimated 1,000 emergency repairs that need to be made will be time consuming, the utility’s leader said.
“This storm packed a very strong, concentrated punch,” said David Daly, president and chief operating officer of PSEG Long Island, who said additional crews have been called in from surrounding areas to assist in the repairs. He noted that hospitals and other critical customers in the area have had their power restored.
Daly said the “pop-up” summer thunder storm left half-mile stretches of downed trees in a 40-mile stretch from Huntington and Brookhaven towns on the North Shore. The extensive damage is hampering the repair work, but utility staffers and their backup are working with tree trimmers.
The storm is the worst severe weather seen on LI since a record 13 inches of rain fell in one day in and around the Town of Islip a year ago next week, causing widespread flooding that washed out several roadways and caused sinkholes.
In Tuesday’s storms, the towns of Brookhaven and Smithtown were the hardest hit, particularly areas north of Jericho Turnpike, officials said.
Jay Engle, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that the damage caused by this storm came from “straight line wind,” which is defined as a damaging wind that exceed 40-50 mph—with Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying winds reached up to 80 mph on LI. Engle said that although this storm seemed extreme, it would still simply be classified as a severe thunderstorm, which formed when an old sea breeze boundary met with the warm, humid air that was felt earlier this week.
In addition to residential power outages, the storms forced the Long Island Rail Road to temporarily suspend service on parts of the Port Jefferson line, stranding some commuters. Train service between Port Jefferson and Stony Brook was restored during the Tuesday evening commute, which initially saw some cancellations due to downed trees and power outages.
“I have authorized all resources from Parks and Waste Management Departments to assist the Highway Department in the clean-up effort,” added Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.
“As communities across the state continue to experience and respond to extreme storms, I am urging all New Yorkers in the impacted regions to exercise caution,” Cuomo said. “Thunderstorms and flash flooding can quickly create dangerous situations, and New Yorkers in any of the worst hit areas should be careful if they must leave home.”
For updates on power outages and other services, customers should visit PSEG’s website: psegliny.com or call 1-800-490-0075.