Peter Ward, director of Lindenhurst Memorial Library, said the facility opened up on Wednesday and is offering Internet, Wi-Fi and charging stations. In a separate room, a flat-screen TV usually used for videoconferencing is instead playing the news for those who have been unable to see it for days. Ward said patrons can get warm, read a book and charge their phones, “plus it’s just a more comfortable place to come to.”
The library is extending its hours and will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through at least next Thursday, he said. So far, Ward said, the library is seeing four or five times the amount of visitors it usually gets. “We’re so happy we can fill this need,” he said.
Ward said much of his staff lives below Montauk Highway and suffered damage and flooding to their homes.
“The staff has really stepped up,” he said. “Even though their own situation is devastating, they are here to help their neighbors.”
On Friday, the parking lot of the library was filled and a steady stream of visitors made their way to the bank of computers on the first floor or used their laptops and iPads in seating areas on the second floor. Others just sat and read. Outlets throughout the library were filled with the plugs of charging phones.
Alana Gund, 22, rollerbladed to the library from her home south of Montauk in order to save gas. A day earlier she came to charge her phone and to contact family members to let them know she and her family are OK. She also took out some books.
The family was able to borrow a generator after a friend got power back, but they’re only able to power one light and the refrigerator, Gund said. On Friday, Gund said she returned to the library with her laptop so she could get some work done for her classes at Touro College, where she is getting a master’s in K-12 literacy.
“I’m going stir crazy,” she said. “I’ve been needing to get out and do things and at least have somewhat of a sense of normalcy.”
Doug Mandart, 52 and his wife Karen, 61, came to the library to read. “It’s tough reading at home with just a flashlight,” Doug joked. The couple has come to the library twice a day for the last two days. “Connecting has been pretty tough, so we’ve been sending emails to let family and friends know we’re OK,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, the Mandarts were emptying out their refrigerator. When they were done, they spent the afternoon in the library. “We were cold and tired and aggravated so this was a nice break,” he said. Besides the books and Internet access, the couple said they were growing more and more appreciative of the light and warmth of the library. “At home, it’s OK at night when you’re under the covers, but during the day when you’re sitting around reading, you’re freezing,” Karen said.
Randy Garcia, 45, and his daughter Amanda, 16, were also spending their second afternoon in a row at the library while Randy’s wife and another daughter stayed at home. While Amanda charged her phone, Randy watched the large flat screen television to catch up on the news. The Garcias took out some books and a DVD for the night. They managed to get a generator Sunday night but have been using it sparingly, afraid to run out of gas. “It’s surprising what you can get out of a library besides books,” Randy said. “If they had coffee you’d spend the whole day!”
Melissa Michalski, 53, came to the library to charge her phone and to file her insurance claim for the damage done to her house in the storm. Her mother, Margaret, 83, caught up on her reading. “We were so glad they were able to open up,” Melissa said. “You couldn’t do better than this place.”
Sandy Brady, 53, walked out of the library with a fully charged phone and four books in her arms. “I’ve got my reading light and my lantern so I’m all set for tonight,” she said. “So you can survive without electricity!”
-- Denise M. Bonilla