UPDATED 9:11 P.M.
In Wantagh, a number of firsts
Two things happened this week for the first time in Arline Vitale’s 51 years of living on Long Island: water flooded her home and she’s had to rely on someone else’s cooking.
The 76-year-old Wantagh grandmother threw out hundreds of dollars of food from her freezer and hasn’t been able to operate her electric stove for the last four days. She was among the dozens who grabbed a hot meal at the Red Cross’ emergency feeding station in Seaford’s Cedar Creek Park on Wednesday.
“People in this area never had to take food like this,” Vitale said, holding a to-go dinner box with plates full of roast beef, broccoli and rice to share with her husband. “This is like something you see that happens in other parts of the country, not here.”
-- Candice Ferrette
UPDATED 8:44 P.M.
Lindenhurst man has water, but is afraid to drink it
Ask Charles Abellino about the damage his Knoll Street home sustained during the storm and he’ll paint a concise picture of his situation.
“I lost pretty much everything,” said Abellino, 33, a worker at Roma Pizza on Montauk Highway. “Washing machine, refrigerator, couch, beds — you name it.”
A dog house he was building for his nephew floated away to a neighbor's house. He said he estimates at least $20,000 in damage. Before the storm, he had thought he would get “maybe three inches” of water. Instead, he got three feet.
“I never expected this,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
He said he has no electricity, but has running water, though he’s afraid to use it, unsure if it’s safe. So he has been staying with his girlfriend in Manhasset.
“I clean out as much as I can during the day and then go up there at night,” he said. “The only thing that concerns me now is being able to get gas to go back and forth.”
-- Denise M. Bonilla
UPDATED 8:17 P.M.
Garbage trucks vs. power lines in Smithtown
Smithtown will wait to resume its normal garbage collection schedule on Monday, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said on Thursday.
Vecchio said that the mixture of garbage trucks that are "pretty high" off the ground and the remaining low-hanging wires was not a good combination.
"We did not want the garbage trucks to negate some of the work that has been done or cause bigger problems," he said.
Officials also met Thursday to devise a strategy to handle tree debris. Residents can take yard waste to The Municipal Services facility, 80 Old Northport Road, in Kings Park between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Contracts were also finalized between the town and two private companies -- one that will pick up long tree trunks and another that will begin collecting other debris starting at 5 a.m. to ship out.
"We can't store it all at once," said Russell Barnett, the town's environmental protection director. "We're processing it, chipping the wood down ... and shipping out."
Smithtown is also using large lights, often seen on highways during late-night repairs, so the yard waste can be processed in the evening, Barnett said.
The town leased two pieces of equipment to grind the tree debris, said John Valentine, director of public safety.
"There's a tremendous amount of trees down here," said Vecchio. "It's too huge for the town to handle in one fell swoop."
It will take at least 2 weeks to process all of the debris, he said, adding that there are four places other than the Kings Park facility to store or process the waste.
"We're a tough town," said Vecchio. "Adversity, we meet it head on."
Still, Valentine said public safety officials were monitoring the next tough challenge: dropping temperatures and few spots with electricity.
"This morning it was cold," he said. "What we're telling people is ... be neighborly. Reach out to neighbors and invite them in."
-- Lauren R. Harrison
UPDATED 7:56 P.M.
Generators are the hottest commodity in Smithtown
More than a dozen people stood in a shopping center on Main Street in Smithtown to buy a hot commodity: generators.
Scott Frybarger, owner of Universal Power Equipment, sold them out of a large container rigged to the back of his truck. The price tag: $2,450.
Frybarger drove “hundreds” of the 9,000-volt electric start remote control generators from Connecticut because “we got begged to come here,” he said.
Suzanne Duerwald, 44, of Smithtown, waited two hours for a generator to power her home, alongside daughter Julia, 12, and son Jake, 15.
“There’s a lot of happy people in this parking lot today,” she said. “It’s like an early Christmas.”
Many lamented a shortage of generators in nearby stores, and with temperatures dropping, there was a healthy amount of worry.
“I can deal with anything, but when it starts to get cold, it gets a little scary,” Duerwald said.
Though Frybarger said he had permission from the shopping center owner to be there, by 3:30 p.m. town officials told him to leave, he said.
“They’re kicking us off private property,” he said. “We’re going to go to another town where people welcome us.”
-- Lauren R. Harrison
UPDATED 7:06 P.M.
Suffolk sets up mobile medical centers in Yaphank
Suffolk officials set up tents Thursday outside the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility in Yaphank to serve as mobile medical centers.
Vanessa Baird-Streeter, spokeswoman for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, said the centers are intended to serve local residents who have medical needs, but do not need a physician’s attention. The tents were supplied by the Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services and were to be staffed by health department employees.
Grace Kelly-McGovern, health department spokeswoman, said between 75 to 80 people stayed at Foley Wednesday night. She said the department expects the need to increase and that there will be cots to meet the rising demand because the facility, which has about 180 residents, was at capacity. The nursing home, which usually has staffing of 200, is being bolstered by 30 people to help wit their expanded role.
The medical tents, which total about 4,000 square feet, were to begin accepting people last night. The tents, officially called an alternative temporary medical care facility, will have cots and the capacity to serve from 60 to 80 people with health needs. It will be staffed with medical reserve volunteers with backup from the nursing home.
Legis. Kate Browning (WFP — Shirley) said the nursing home workers have begun receiving layoff notices that their county jobs will be terminated at year’s end because of the sale of the nursing home.
UPDATED 6:45 P.M.
Smithtown residents flock to hardware stores
Many residents of Smithtown hopped from gas station to hardware stores Thursday afternoon trying to buy anything — flashlights, generators, fuel for cars and generators — that they could use to get through massive power outages.
"There's a shortage of gas cans and batteries," said Commack Hardware store employee Erik Olsen. "We can't even go to the city to get anything" from suppliers.
The store, which has been in business since 1959, had no electricity and was only staying open through the late afternoon. Customers had to pay in cash only, because credit card machines were down.
But customers got crafty with the merchandise that was stocked. "People are making their own extension cords," said the store's co-owner, John Burns. "Anything that will work."
John LiMandri, 73, of Smithtown, was happy to find a flashlight with batteries included, after going to several stores like Home Depot and Target, he said.
"I'm looking for anything that will give me power," he said. LiMandri said his family barbecued in order to eat and that neighbors in his Smithtown Pines community shared generators.
Still, he lamented, "I'd love to take a shower."
-- Lauren R. Harrison
UPDATED: 5:50 P.M.
Stopping at Starbucks for a latte and a charge
At a Starbucks on Main Street in Islip Thursday afternoon, Ken Frey was one of nearly two dozen customers looking for more than just a latte. He also needed a charge — for his laptop.
Without power since Sandy struck, he's relied on his wife to charge portable DVD players, cellphones and other electronic devices at her job — all for the stay-at-home dad to have something to occupy his two young children, and to have a little sanity for himself.
"Thank God for the Nintendo DS, that's all I can say," said Frey, 47, of East Islip.
Frey, an unemployed creative director, came to the coffee shop so that he could file for his unemployment benefits, and also to postpone a phone interview.
Without reliable phone services, he's loathe to keep the job interview appointment. As he spoke, Sydney, 5, and Ian, 4, sipped strawberry and cream drinks and ate a chocolate chip cookie.
"Do you have power?" Sydney asked someone talking to her father.
Next, the family was off to wash clothes at a nearby laundromat, a task usually done at home.
UPDATED: 5:20 P.M.
Sole rider on Suffolk bus to NYC finds office closed
If you think you’re commute was rough today, consider the tale of one unlucky Suffolk bus rider.
Suffolk Department of Public Works Commissioner Gilbert Anderson said one of the county’s express buses into Manhattan carried just one passenger today. The man waited in the bus as it fought intense traffic before finally arriving in Manhattan.
“By the time it got into the city, he found out his office was closed,” Anderson said. “So we drove him all the way back.”
UPDATED 4:40 P.M.
Suffolk cops: Curiosity seekers stay away
The Suffolk County Police Department issued a news release asking "onlookers and curiosity seekers refrain from visiting neighborhoods significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy, primarily on the south shore of Long Island and the Fire Island communities." The release added that onlookers could distress homeowners and inhibit utility workers and contractors working on repairs.
In addition, the department is warning residents about the dangers of cesspools, as many collapses have been reported. The level of toxic fumes released during a collapse is life-threatening. Residents should immediately call 911 to report a cesspool collapse.
-- Newsday Staff
UPDATED 4:20 P.M
Ready-to-eat meals in Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay Town officials, with state and Nassau County Office of Emergency Management representatives, are to distribute ready-to-eat individual meals and bottled water Friday to residents impacted by superstorm Sandy at three locations between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Trucks with the supplies be will at Stehli Beach in Bayville, Syosset-Woodbury Community Park and Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa, officials said.
A truck with 10,000 meal rations will be at each location, town spokesman Brian Devine said Thursday. “If we need more, we’ll try and get more,” he said.
Stehli Beach is on Bayville Avenue in Bayville, Syosset-Woodbury Community Park is on Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury and the distribution site at Marjorie R. Post Community Park at the intersection of Unqua and Merrick roads in Massapequa, officials said.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto in a statement Thursday said, “I’m hopeful that providing residents in their time of need will go a long way toward making the current situation we all find ourselves in a little more tolerable, as cleanup and restoration efforts progress.”
UPDATED 2:54 P.M.
Hempstead waives building permit fees for storm-related repairs
Hempstead is switching from disaster mode to recovery mode by bringing services to residents and easing rebuilding restrictions, town officials said.
The town will waive permitting fees — an expense that can cost $2,500 or more — for rebuilders, said Supervisor Kate Murray. The town's $50 "trailer fee" for residents who need a temporary trailer during rebuilding is also waived, she said.
The town plans to bring a "mobile town hall" to heavily damaged waterfront communities in the coming days. The mobile halls will allow residents to fill out permit applications associated with rebuilding, officials said.
The building department will also expand hours to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., officials said. Building and zoning fees are also waived, officials said.
Building inspectors will be walking neighborhoods and assisting residents on Saturdays and Sundays, Murray said.
"We're trying to bring our operations to the neighborhoods that are very hard-hit," Murray said. "You get past the storm, well now I have to rebuild my life."
Councilman Gary Hudes added: "A week ago people were thinking about how they were going to have over for Thanksgiving. Now their lives are turned upside down."
Seventy-five percent of downed trees in Hempstead have been removed and the remaining ones will be removed by tomorrow, except for the trees entangled with electrical wires, Murray said.
FEMA plans to set up a trailer at Merrick Road Park, Murray said. The county OEM also plans to set up meal trucks at town parks in the coming days, she said.
Two people who will benefit from free permitting, Donna and Lenny D'Andrea, are living in their Levittown home despite a challenging intrusion — an approximately 50-foot-tall tree that landed in their master bedroom during the storm.
The four-bedroom, 1,500-square foot Rose Lane home lacks heat, hot water and power because of the storm.
"We've been staying upstairs," said Donna. "It's very cold."
The tree damaged the home, garage, driveway and unearthed a chunk of sidewalk. A contractor hired by the family said the damage will likely take $10,000 to $15,000 to repair, which will take a week to ten days.
The family has bought tarps to place on the roof when the tree is removed.
Donna said Hempstead Town's decision to waive permitting fees for rebuilding residents is "a big help." The fees would likely cost the family several hundred dollars, town officials said.
Donna, an office worker, said she was in the bathroom, and Lenny, an MTA supervisor, was in the living room when the tree hit.
"Everything rattled and things came off shelves," Donna said.
Cats Bella and Mia were unharmed.
"What are you going to do? It is what it is, man," said Lenny.
UPDATED 2 p.m.
Donations for St. Jude Outreach in Mastic Beach
Dozens of people came out to William Floyd Elementary School parking lot to donate food, cleaning supplies and toiletries.
The event is running through 3 p.m. today.
Donations will be given to St. Jude Outreach, the in-house food pantry of St. Jude Catholic Church in Mastic Beach.
UPDATED 1:27 P.M.
Free ice in Yaphank, Riverhead
Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco today announced that the Sheriff’s Office will be distributing ice to county residents on a first-come, first-serve basis starting today until 5 p.m. and tomorrow from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at both the Riverhead and Yaphank correctional facilities.
There is no charge for the ice and there is a limit of one cooler fill-up per car.
Pick up locations:
Suffolk County Correctional Facility on Route 24 in Riverside
Suffolk County Minimum Security Facility on Yaphank Avenue in Yaphank
Directions to Riverside: The entrance to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility is on Rt. 24 in Riverside. From the LIE: travel eastbound to exit 71. Make a right at the stop sign onto Rt. 24 and go approximately 4 miles. The correctional facility will be on the right. From Sunrise Highway: travel eastbound to exit 61. Follow the signs to County Rd 51- Riverhead. Go past the county complex. Make a left onto Rt. 24. Go approximately 1/8 mile and watch for the correctional facility on the left.
Directions to Yaphank: Traveling from the west, take the LIE east to exit 67, Yaphank Ave. Make a right at the first traffic light. Continue on Yaphank Avenue traveling south and the correctional facility will be approximately 1.5 miles on the right. Traveling from the east, take the LIE to exit 67, Yaphank Avenue. Make a left at the light, and go south for approximately 1.5 miles. The facility will be on your right. From Sunrise Highway, take exit 57 north onto Horseblock Rd. Bear right at the fork onto Yaphank Avenue. The correctional facility will be approximately 1.5 miles on your left.
For more information, call 631-852-2202.
UPDATED 12:47 P.M.
Charging stations opened in Brookhaven, Sayville
A number of centers have opened in the towns of Islip and Brookhaven for residents without power because of superstorm Sandy to charge electrical devices such as cellphones, tablets and laptops.
In Brookhaven Town, the following charging locations are available Monday-Frida, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.:
Brookhaven Town Hall
1 Independence Hill
Farmingville, NY 11738
New Village Recreation Center
20 Wireless Road (Corner of Wireless Road and Hawkins Road)
Centereach, NY 11720
Robert E. Reid, Sr. Recreation Center
Defense Hill and Route 25A
Shoreham, NY 11786
St. Michael's Recreation Center
Gordon Heights, NY 11727
Mastic Recreation Center
15 Herkimer Street
Mastic, NY 11950
Please contact individual locations for possible extended hours of service. For more storm related information, call 451-TOWN or visit www.brookhaven.org.
Additionally, the Community Ambulance Company of Sayville has set up marked pickup trucks with power strips for today and tomorrow. The times available may change based on demand.
The locations include:
Main Street and Railroad Avenue, Sayville (In front of the clock)
11 a. m-12:30 p.m.
Main Street and Snedecor Ave., Bayport
Oakdale Long Island Rail Road station, south parking lot, Oakdale Bohemia Road and
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
For more information, call 631-567-2586, or visit communityamb.org.