Up to 1,500 utility workers will hit the road Thursday to restore electricity for some 4,000 customers who were still without power after Tuesday's storms or because of typical summertime outages.
As PSEG Long Island moves into Day 3 of its largest outage and restoration effort, the utility felt the heat as it raced to clear and repair service by Thursday. Initial numbers showed the pre-dawn storms that toppled trees and downed wires Tuesday had struck down power for some 60,000 customers, but the figure rose to 88,000 by the end of Wednesday as more tree limbs fell and the heat caused more outages.
Utility officials said they were briefing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office and the Department of Public Service on its progress in restoring customers' power -- both of which publicly flayed the Long Island Power Authority, owner of the electric grid that PSEG now operates, for faltering after superstorm Sandy.
"Our customers without power are uncomfortable," said Dave Daly, PSEG Long Island president. "It's very hot. It's just unacceptable. We are working with our customers to give them the best information we can about our process for restoration and what the plan is."
Hundreds of workers from New Jersey, New York City and upstate utilities have been brought in to help, Daly said.
But Daly said getting power back up has been challenging because New England utilities also are dealing with storm blackouts and pop-up storms could cause further havoc this week.
Mike Varley, a manager for Rite Aid in Setauket, said the store got its power back late Wednesday, though the store had remained open without power.
The store was in cleanup mode Wednesday night, he said: "It's a complete mess. All the food in the refrigerator has to be thrown out."
He praised PSEG for doing a "good job of cleaning it up," referring to downed trees and wires.
The storm, which focused its force on Suffolk's western and North Shore communities, carried estimated wind gusts of 74 mph in South Setauket and 95 mph was measured on the roof of Stony Brook University's Health Sciences Tower, about 350 feet above ground, according to the National Weather Service's Upton office.
In addition to individual customers, the utility has restored power to three hospitals, eight to 10 schools and a nursing home, Daly said. It has also restored power to 24 water pumping stations, he said.
Of about 300 critical care customers, which includes people who use medical devices, all but 51 had power restored by Wednesday afternoon, Daly said.
With Patricia Kitchen