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Long IslandNassau

Great Neck neighborhood copes on a day without power

Frank Conte , 83, of Great Neck, watching

Frank Conte , 83, of Great Neck, watching workers repair power lines on Concord Avenue.  Credit: Newsday/Craig Schneider

Stuck without power for about 15 hours, residents of the Great Neck neighborhood weren't losing their tempers Thursday. But they were losing their patience.

It was mid-afternoon, and many were keeping an anxious eye on the three utility crews working at the corner of Concord Avenue and Iowa Road, repairing the damaged poles and restringing the wires.

Jeffrey Vee, 53, peered out his front door and lamented all that he had sacrificed that day.

"No internet, no TV; I cannot charge my phone," Vee said. 

A storm-damaged tree had fallen over the nearby power lines at about midnight, sending the neighborhood into quiet darkness. It didn't bother Vee at the time since it wasn't a cold night. During the day, with nothing to do on his day off, Vee went out shopping for groceries. 

But now, with a chilly wind blowing through the tree-lined community, he was ready for it all to be over.

"I hope another hour," he said.

Gale-force winds had blown over trees and knocked down power lines across Long Island, cutting power to more than 65,000 people. By midafternoon Thursday, these Great Neck neighbors were among the 7,000 customers who still did not have electricity.

Several people came right out on the street to watch the crews as they raised and lowered the mechanical buckets that lifted up workers like a crane. A big tree at the corner, some 40 feet tall, had snapped, toppling the upper trunk onto the power wires. 

By midafternoon the crews had repaired the two damaged utility poles and were installing a new transformer and stringing new wires.

Frank Conte, 83, had come outside after reading a book by natural daylight. In a way, he said, the day worked in his favor.

While his wife took the opportunity to tidy up and throw out a bunch of junk, he used the lack of electricity as an excuse to do pretty much nothing.

"I didn't have to go out in the garage and do work," he said.

Lorraine Pribetic, 45, was standing on the sidewalk waiting for her two sons to come from school. She was trying to figure out how the school bus was going to get around the utility crews, who blocked off Concord Avenue by her house.

She noticed the power outage at about 1 a.m. when the sound machine the family uses when they sleep went silent.

Prebetic's mother spent much of Thursday out of the house. She went down to the neighborhood coffee shop, where she charged her phone.

Prebetic recalled the power outage that came with superstorm Sandy in 2012. But she was loathe to compare Thursday's outage to that terrible and lengthy outage.

"Back then we had no power for two weeks," she said.

This time, power was restored to the neighborhood at about 5 p.m.


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