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On LI with no power? Some flock to Starbucks

People in the Town of Southampton who lost

People in the Town of Southampton who lost power during Tropical Storm Irene flocked to Starbucks for electricity. (Aug. 29, 2011)

BLOG POST: On LI with no power? Some flock to Starbucks

Credit: Erin Geismar

If you didn’t have power on Sunday because of Tropical Storm Irene -- like most people in the Town of Southampton Sunday -- you can relax, play games, read by candlelight.

But if you don’t have power on Monday and you’re supposed to report back to work -- like many people in the Town of Southampton Monday -- you flee to Starbucks.

“This is my only contact with the real world,” said Euan Rellie, an investment banker who works in Manhattan and who didn’t return to work because he didn’t want to leave his wife, kids and relatives alone without power in their Bridgehampton home.

Rellie spent most of Monday at Starbucks in Bridgehampton, where every inch of tabletop was taken by a laptop, people brokered for access to an outlet and few seats were left empty.

“It’s been very funny in here today,” he said. “There have been a few tussles over power sockets, but then a few enterprising citizens brought in some power strips.”

He said eventually community spirit prevailed and people started to share. At long tables, where five or six were seated, people would rotate seats so everyone got a chance to recharge.

“The best thing I’ve seen was a power strip with two other power strips plugged into it,” Rellie said. “I thought, ‘Starbucks is going to have a high electric bill this month.’”

Danielle Felber is an event planner based in London. She was in Bridgehampton on a two-week vacation and was due back in London for work this morning. Power went out Sunday morning in the house where she was staying and had yet to be restored.

“Go to the beach for sun and to Starbucks for everything else,” she said of her strategy for getting by off the grid.

Joe Sombrotto, a recording engineer from Los Angeles, was also supposed to be back at work, but instead was sharing his power strip with strangers at the Bridgehampton Starbucks.

“I wanted to catch up on work and pleasure,” he said.

He was staying with his father in Sag Harbor where there was no power. His cousin lives in the North Sea area of Southampton and also was without power so she showed up to Starbucks to meet him. Both sipped drinks, plugged in and chatted with others working at their table.

Rellie ended his work day around 6 p.m., put his laptop under his arm and headed back to a powerless home. He said he heard power might not be restored to the area until Friday, so it wouldn’t be his last day at Starbucks this week.

“The coffee is expensive,” he said. “But the electricity is priceless.”

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