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Long Island

LI storm outages down sharply, but outrage at PSEG remains

Newsday's Chelsea Irizarry brings the story of Long Islanders still without power nine days after Tropical Storm Isiaias.  Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.; Howard Schnapp

Only about 900 PSEG Long Island customers were without power Thursday night but officials and residents remained furious with PSEG's response to Tropical Storm Isaias nine days after high winds played havoc with the region.

PSEG reported 922 customers without power just after 11 p.m. Thursday, down from 2,881 earlier in the day, according to the utility's outage map. The bulk of those outages, PSEG said, occurred in the days following the storm.

But the timing of the outages was of little matter to Donna Frasco of Mill Neck, who described her neighborhood as “a nightmare” with downed trees and wires.

“It’s like a war zone,” said Frasco, whose generator has overheated and is now unusable. “It’s so bad here … It’s a dangerous situation that no one is paying attention to.” 

Susan Altamore Carusi, also of Mill Neck, said each morning she drives over a downed wire on her street, where 10 residents have been without power since Aug. 4. PSEG, she said, has yet to return after surveying the damage a week ago.

"Don’t say you’ve restored power to everyone," she said. “You haven’t.”

Nassau County lawmakers, who have fiercely criticized the storm response, will have an opportunity to grill PSEG officials Monday during a hearing on the utility's storm response, preparation and communication with residents.

PSEG chief operating officer Dan Eichhorn announced Wednesday that all 420,000 customers who lost power during Isaias had been restored, although he acknowledged thousands of other post-storm outages were still being worked on around the clock.

State Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport), who has called for Eichhorn's resignation, said the utility's proclamation was "laughably false," noting that many of his constituents remain without power 10 days after the storm. 

“Mr. Eichhorn, please stop trying to placate customers with false promises and get the power back on," Gaughran said.

PSEG, which has held daily Zoom conferences to brief reporters on its progress, didn’t hold one Thursday, nor did it respond to Newsday’s request for an interview.

Hamilton Park Civic Association co-president Anat Goldberg-Yossefy said 58 homes in her neighborhood also remained without power Thursday. Homeowners, she said, were “extremely frustrated” by restoration times that continue to get pushed back.

Frank Perrone of East Meadow also disputed Eichhorn's statements.

A partner at the law firm of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, Perrone lost power just after Isaias and a downed wire remains on a wooden deck in his yard, occasionally sparking.

A PSEG employee visited Perrone's home Thursday and told him that because the “mast” attachment — which delivers service to his meter — had separated from his house, the utility would not fix it. PSEG told Perrone he must hire an electrician to repair the mast.

Perrone, who moved his family to New Jersey after days of spotty electric service, called PSEG’s response “really, really insane." 

PSEG spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler said customers “own the service panel to the meter pan, the entrance cable and the mast. PSEG Long Island is responsible for the top of the mast out to the street.”

Others, like Anthony Leteri of Fort Salonga, watched their power go out a second time Thursday, just hours before a family wedding for his son — and only days after it was first restored by PSEG.

“PSEG is a disgrace,” Leteri said.

In Suffolk, power has been restored in Huntington Bay. But Mayor Herb Morrow said the next battle is getting phone and internet service back, including at Village Hall, where the police department is located.

Morrow said he has tried to reach Optimum — which provides service to most of the village — but has received only a stock answer that the company was working on the problem. “I basically have a Village Hall that is not operating,” he said. 

Village Police Chief Chris Jack said nonemergency calls typically go directly to the station, now out of service.

“Because Optimum is down we don’t have that communication with our residents,” he said. “Our 911 system is intact, and we can respond to emergencies. But other things, where police officers might be required, they are unable to contact us without having to come to Village Hall.”

Lisa Anselmo, spokeswoman for Altice USA, which operates Optimum services, said the information provided to Newsday "does not reflect the updates provided" to village officials on Thursday.

Anselmo said fewer than 1% of its customers remained without service. "Our crews are in the field continuing to make progress and we are working as quickly as possible as power is restored by the power companies," she said.

Andrew Hertz said his father, Stanley Hertz, a Roslyn-based psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist, had his power restored by PSEG Monday but is still unable to get online — meaning he cannot reach his patients and is unable to send out prescriptions.

"This has resulted in a medical emergency that is being completely overlooked and ignored by Optimum," Andrew Hertz said. 

Jerry Mintz of Roslyn Heights has been without cable and internet service since Isaias, even as his power was restored Aug. 6.

Mintz, who founded a national nonprofit that advocates for alternative learning structures, including home schooling, said Wi-Fi is critical to his operations.

"We depend on the internet," he said, "and can't function without it." 

With Deborah S. Morris

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