Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00
Long Island couldn’t catch a break. Nearly eight days after Hurricane Sandy rocked the Northeast, a nor’easter dubbed Athena rolled in on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Raucous weather dumped snow mixed with rain and sleet, creating hazardous road conditions that made the easiest of trips resemble a scene out of The Day After Tomorrow.
Rush hour last Wednesday on Old Country Road near the Mineola Train Station showcased vehicles jockeying for position, struggling to make their way down slippery, icy roads. According to the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) website, almost 60,000 customers lost electricity into Thursday morning because of Athena, with combined Sandy outages reaching 200,000 across the island by the morning commute. More than 140,000 were in Nassau County alone.
After Sandy arrived in Mineola, LIPA reported almost 12,000 outages in the village. Before Athena hit, Mineola tallied about 800 reported outages throughout the village. Once the snow settled, homes without power increased to 835 as of 5 p.m. last Thursday.
Williston Park has 5,000 without power, according to LIPA. Outages stretched throughout the town.
Other notable totals included but were not limited to Floral Park (3,939), Great Neck (1,791), Great Neck Estates (1,077), North Hills (2,737), North New Hyde Park (3,420), Port Washington (2,203), Port Washington North (1,304), Sands Point (1,121) and Westbury (1,714). LIPA reported that North Hempstead outages reached 38,000. Eight inches of snow was reported in nearby Albertson, according to the National Weather Service.
“[The Nov. 7] storm has caused additional damage and power outages and we will continue to deploy our significant workforce to address all power outages,” LIPA said on its website after Athena hit. “[It] may impede our restoration efforts, because we must also ensure the safety of our workforce. Rest assured that our crews will continue to work as long as, and whenever, it is safe to do so. When possible, we will restore power to customers who have been without power for the longest time. Your safety and well-being remain our number one priority and we thank you for your continued patience during this difficult time.”
About 12,000 workers were out after the storm, trying to restore power. The authority asked that people stay clear of downed wires and be aware of areas impacted by snow, where wires and trees could be covered and dangerous.
Mineola over the last two years has been pummeled by the elements. Hurricane Irene ripped through the village in 2011, the rogue storm on Aug. 15 made the area look like Atlantis and now Sandy, coupled with Athena, pulled no punches. To say the least, it’s been a rough time for Long Island.
As did Mineola with its village hall creating a warming center and charging station, Nassau County and the American Red Cross set up a shelter at New Hyde Park Memorial High School after the shelter at Manhasset High School closed, according to North Hempstead officials.
“We shifted from storm recovery back to storm preparation, all the while doing recovery still,” North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said. “Folks are trying to get communication between LIPA, villages and other villages so other people have an understanding of what’s happening, primarily because the frustration from residents is growing to greater heights just based on the time that it is taking to get power up in so many of our communities.”
The town ran two buses on Wednesday to the seven comfort stations in North Hempstead. The vehicles picked up residents who wanted to stay at the shelter because the non-designated shelters are not equipped to have people stay overnight. According Kaiman, the shelter holds about 750 people.
“We’re told that 252 [LIPA] lineman [were working] in our town,” Kaiman stated.