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Local updates: Sandy's impact on LI, Nov. 3

Damage done by superstorm Sandy across the LIRR

Damage done by superstorm Sandy across the LIRR tracks from Island Park on Barnum Island (Nov. 1, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Going door to door to get people warm

Town of Huntington officials enlisted a group of volunteers who went door to door Saturday, leaving fliers in mailboxes and on doorsteps advising residents of seven warming centers that have been set up throughout the township.

Large portions of Huntington are still without electrical service nearly a week after the storm. In addition to a refuge from falling temperatures, the warming centers -- including three churches, a temple, an ice rink and a YMCA -- are also offering food and a place to charge electronic devices.
-- Delthia Ricks

Getting in line for gas -- and dinner

Drivers lined up at the Planet Gas station at the corner of Pulaski Road and Broadway in Greenlawn in anticipation of a gas shipment. The station is limiting customers to 25 gallons each, but drivers weren't deterred.

Nearby businesses took advantage of the line that stretched six blocks at 7 p.m.

As the drivers waited for the gas deliveries, an employee of the Grecian Grill carried a menu from car to car, asking drivers if anyone was hungry and wanted to order food.

A couple employees from Blondie's Bake Shop also went from car to car handing out free cookies to the hundreds of drivers. And The Yogurt Factory had two workers passing out free cups of vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt.
-- Joseph Mallia

School closings update

At least 20 public school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties closed last week after superstorm Sandy plan to start classes Monday or by midweek, according to educators and a Newsday survey of districts’ websites.

Many school leaders cautioned that they won’t make final decisions on reopening until Sunday afternoon.

Decisions rest largely on whether local roads are clear enough to run buses, electricity has been restored to facilities left without power, and teachers and other staff members can get to schools despite gasoline shortages.

School districts that on Friday said they plan to resume classes Monday include: Bethpage, East Williston, Roosevelt, Valley Stream 13, Westbury, Eastport-South Manor, Hampton Bays, Islip, Miller Place, Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, Southampton, Springs, Three Village, Tuckahoe and William Floyd.

Thirteen other districts, all in the Island’s eastern sector, brought students back last week.

They were Bridgehampton, Center Moriches, East Moriches, East Quogue, Fishers Island, Greenport, Mattituck-Cutchogue, Remsenberg-Speonk, Riverhead, Sagaponack, Shelter Island, Southold and Westhampton Beach.

Because of power outages, some districts' websites could not be accessed or had not been updated to reflect districts' status.

Check out Newsday's school closings list here.

-- John Hildebrand

College openings/closings

For Monday, Hofstra, Stony Brook and St. Joseph's in Patchogue are open.

All day and evening classes and events at LIU Post and LIU Brentwood are canceled for Monday and Tuesday.

-- Newsday Staff

Setauket Fire Department feeding public

The Setauket Fire Department has opened its Nicolls Road firehouse as a Red Cross Mobile Meals Distribution Center. The firehouse will have food today while supplies last.

They will also distribute on Sunday and each day following until further notice.

Residents should call 631-941-4900 for more information. The Setauket Fire Department’s Nicolls Road Fire House is located at 394 Nicolls Rd. in East Setauket (½ mile north of Route 347).

--Newsday Staff

Hempstead Town asks for tax extension

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Receiver of Taxes Donald Clavin have asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state officials to extend the tax bill deadline past Nov. 13 in light of the havoc caused by Superstorm Sandy in New York state.

“Paying property taxes is unpleasant, but cleaning up from this catastrophe is tragic and heartbreaking,” Murray said in a statement. “On behalf of our residents, we are respectfully asking the Governor to extend the upcoming property tax deadline.”

Clavin called the deadline "an oppressive burden for those who are facing some of the most serious challenges of their lives" in a statement. He added that numerous town residents have asked for the extension.
-- Patrick Whittle

Food, water in Bellport

The news site reported early Saturday afternoon that Long Island Harvest delivered food for the Bellport Fire Department, and Home Depot delivered bottled water to the department for those in need.

The department is located at 161 Main St.
-- Newsday Staff

Store becomes movie theater

Jared Behr of Behr's Baby and Kids Furniture store in Seaford says the store has morphed into an ad hoc movie theater for kids needing a respite from superstorm Sandy.

Behr says people are welcome to come in, rest, and bring their kids if they have nowhere else to go. The store is playing movies to give children a distraction.
The store is located at 1220 Hicksville Rd. For more info, call 516-526-4858.
-- Maryann Zimmerman

Pick up clothes, etc., in Lindenhurst

Sept. 11, 2001, first responder Ed Tucker recalls enduring cold nights and uncomfortable conditions while responding to the World Trade Center.

He was thankful for the warm clothing donated to him during that time, and now the former New York City firefighter began a clothing drive at his home in Lindenhurst to benefit those impacted by superstorm Sandy after it ravaged the South Shore on Monday.

Tucker and his wife, Annamarie, 29, first wanted to donate their used clothing to help families stay warm in the days ahead due to mass power outages.

“People need this stuff now, not two weeks from now,” said Tucker, 51. “We’re even open to people coming to our home. If there’s anybody that needs them now we’ll meet them.”

Tucker passed the torch to the Lindenhurst Fire Department, dropping off the last batch of clothing to the Lindenhurst Pavilion Saturday at 9 a.m.

Melissa DeMayo, director of St. John’s Lutheran Nursery School in Lindenhurst, said people can also pick up items on Saturday at Lindenhurst Pavilion near Fireman’s Park through 7 p.m.

“You name it. We pretty much have it here,” said DeMayo, 30. “We have coats, women’s clothing, baby clothing, shoes, blankets, non perishables, diapers.”

DeMayo said the idea of holding a clothing drive at home is a great idea. But now more of the community is needed to help organize and sort through the clothing and items.

“I think it’s wonderful to be able to open your home up to the community and allow people to drop anything off for a great cause,” she said. “The community has really come together this week.”
-- Brittany Wait

Massapequa library: One open, one closed

The Massapequa Public Library’s Central Avenue building location is open and fully operational. It will be open today until 5 p.m. and tomorrow from noon-4 p.m. For more information call 516-798-4607.

The Bay Harbour building has no power and will be closed until further notice.
-- Newsday Staff


Firehouses added as meal distribution centers
According to news releases issued by the Town of Brookhaven, firehouses in Rocky Point and Sound Beach have opened their doors as Red Cross Mobile Meals Distributions Centers.

The Rocky Point Fire Department will have food available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will run until further notice. The fire department will also be accepting donations of clothing for victims of the Breezy Point house fires in Queens. The Rocky Point Fire House is located at Company 3, Shoreham House, located at 49 Rte. 25 A in Shoreham.

The Sound Beach Fire Department will have food between 8 a.m. and midnight, and will run until further notice. The Sound Beach Fire House is located at 152 Sound Beach Blvd.
-- Newsday Staff

Halloween in November

Kids in the Westhampton Beach area who missed out on Halloween will get a second chance. According to a news release by the Westhampton Beach Chamber of Commerce, “Halloween in November 2012” will take place Nov. 8.

The festivities will start with a parade originating from Westhampton Beach Elementary School down Mill Road, beginning at 3:15 p.m. The trick-or-treating will then take place on Westhampton Beach’s Main Street through 5 p.m.

For more information, contact JoAnn Rich or Barbara Riegger at 631-288-3337 or
-- Newsday Staff

UPDATED 12:15 P.M.
Small business help in Town of Babylon

The Town of Babylon announced in a news release that the New York State Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College has partnered with the town to provide a small business counselor on-site at Babylon Town Hall to assist small businesses with their needs following superstorm Sandy, including damage documentation and paperwork preparation. Meetings will take place in the town board room.

A counselor will be available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 11/9. Babylon Town Hall is located 200 East Sunrise Hwy., Lindenhurst. For more information, call 631-957-3000.
-- Newsday Staff

UPDATED 12:09 P.M.
Where to get essentials in Town of Babylon

The Town of Babylon has issued a news release stating where residents can find essential needs.

* Showers
Hot showers will be available at Phelps Lane Pool (151 Phelps Lane in North Babylon) Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please bring your own towel and supplies, as well as flip flops, if you have them.

* Cellphone charging stations
Babylon Town Hall (200 E Sunrise Highway, Lindenhurst) will be open as a charging station Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There are computers available for resident use.

The Town Hall Annex (281 Phelps Lane, North Babylon) remains open 24 hours a day as a safe haven and a cellphone charging station.

* Debris containers
The Town of Babylon will be placing 30-yard debris containers throughout the hardest hit areas of the town for residents to use. They will be placed in the low-lying areas first, and the town encourages residents to use them, even if they are not located in front of their own house. These containers are for use by anybody who needs them.
-- Newsday Staff

UPDATED 11:53 A.M.
Legislator makes office available this weekend

Suffolk County Legis. John M. Kennedy Jr. (12th District) announced in a news release that he will be keeping his district office open this weekend to assist with the various constituent issues brought about by Hurricane Sandy.

Kennedy’s office will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and is located at 725 Veterans Memorial Hwy., Bldg. 17. Hauppauge. Residents are welcome to plug in their cellphones at the office.
-- Newsday Staff

UPDATED 11:15 A.M.
Library makes life a little easier

At the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley library Friday, smiling faces could be spotted.

The hum of daily life was somehow in progress there, with electricity, Internet and snacks available free to anyone who walked in.

A Disney movie played downstairs to a handful of young children, while older kids grabbed pretzels and cookies by the handful and horsed around.

“Walk, don't run,“ librarian Lorraine Squires commanded two boys racing up the staircase.

The library has quickly become an oasis for the battered South Shore communities. When it reopened on Wednesday, the library offered a teen program that included pizza for the young participants.

“Their parents were asking if they could eat also, so we realized we could do more,“ said library director Kerri Rosalia.

The library, which normally provides snacks for the youth programs, put out their inventory of food including tea, coffee, bottles of water, and chips, and is considering extending hours even though some of the staff themselves have lost power at home.

“We'll do this for a couple of days until the power comes back,“ Rosalia said.

“We're so happy to be able to help,“ Squires said, though she herself had no power and a tree fallen on her house.

Pearl Wilson made herself a cup of coffee and praised the staff's dedication to the community.

“That's so nice,“ she said. Wilson, who was recovering from knee surgery, heard about the library and decided to make her way there on foot from her Strafford Street home. “I said I will get there, even if it takes me an hour,“ she said of the mile and a quarter long walk. She said she had no power though all her neighbors on one side of the street did, and Squires advised her to call LIPA again on one of the library's free phones.

“I'm going to make that call right now,“ Wilson said.

The demand has been extremely high, Rosalia said. On Wednesday, they had between 1,500 to 2,000 visitors.

More than a place with power and Internet, the library was also a spot where patrons could find a community. “They want to tell their stories,“ Rosalia said. “We go home with heavy hearts. It's so impoverished here."
-- Sophia Chang

UPDATED 11:03 A.M.
Library extends hours for the needy

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

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