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Farmingdale businesses deal with power blackout

A LIPA crew lowers a new transformer under

A LIPA crew lowers a new transformer under the sidewalk on Main Street in Farmingdale, Wednesday. (July 7, 2010) Credit: David Pokress

Although Main Street in Farmingdale was lined with closed businesses Wednesday - due to a power outage that struck on Tuesday - Harry Cohen, owner of The Chocolate Duck, remained open and lured customers in with flashlights.

"We're open as best as we can," said Cohen, 65, of the cake and chocolate supply store. "We had a couple of good sales today, so it's not terribly a total loss."

Tuesday's power outage struck in the middle of the heat wave - at about 3:15 p.m. - and shut lights in Village Hall, the Farmingdale Village Fire Department and stores in the heart of downtown.

Mayor George Starkie and Village Administrator Brian Harty said power remained out Wednesday afternoon. But as of 7:15 p.m., the Long Island Power Authority, on its website, listed no outages in the village.

"Anytime you have summers like this, it's not uncommon to have a problem with a transformer," Starkie said earlier. "You're only as strong as your weakest link, and this transformer is the weakest link."

He said Village Hall and the firehouse had been running on a generator.

During the outage Pat Martino, 47, of Farmingdale, said, "It's crazy. You can't get any cool around here. I wanted to do a little shopping, get something to eat, and everything is closed."

Without electricity, Cohen, from Dix Hills, was able to sell cake supplies, but not so much chocolate. Relying on 50 pounds of dry ice and about seven freezers, he said he had not lost any perishable goods yet.

"It's not hot enough to melt the chocolate. In here, it's like 80 degrees. In order to lose anything, it would have to go up in the 90s and I don't think that's going to really happen," he said.

Some business owners were not as lucky.

Ubaldo Gennarini, 65, of Farmingdale, said between lost customers and perishable foods, his business, Ubaldo's Ristorante Italiano, will suffer losses close to $5,000 as a result of this week's heat wave.

"Last night, I lost a lot of business - especially since it was after the holidays," said Gennarini, who said his customers left the restaurant when the outage hit. "The way the economy is now, forget about it."

Paul Gatto of North Massapequa, owner of Paul Gatto Gallery for 43 years, was a little more optimistic. "We have no power or telephone service. But it gives us a day off, so it's not as bad as all that," he said.

The situation in Farmingdale was just one in a series of localized outages in Nassau and Suffolk counties. There were 989 customers across Long Island who were without power as of 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to LIPA's website. "Most of them are heat-related," LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said. "Blown fuses and transformers from overusage. . . . It's the heat."

With John Valenti

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