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Free ice distributed to LIers at Suffolk jails

A steady stream of drivers pulled up outside the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Yaphank on Wednesday to pick up what has proved to be an elusive item in some areas: ice.

"All the stores say, 'No Ice,' " said Nancy Feustel, of Huntington. "I've been calling every shopping center for ice. I'm desperate for ice."

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, who has had no power at his Cold Spring Harbor home since Sunday morning, knows how she feels. With a freezer full of food, he set off looking for ice, but, "I couldn't find it."

Feeling "panic," he remembered that the county jails have ice-making machines. So he set up two refrigerated trucks outside the Yaphank and Riverhead jails to dispense free ice. By the end of the day Wednesday, inmates on work release had filled up coolers with more than 2,800 pounds of ice. The program will continue through Friday.

Maria Piechowski, a grocery store cashier from Mastic Beach, was one of the grateful recipients. Her son, Stephen, a meteorology student at Suffolk Community College, had insisted they evacuate before the hurricane. When they returned home Monday, they found their power out. But Piechowski was prepared for the worst with a generator.

Unfortunately, she wasn't prepared to actually use it. "I blew the generator," she said.

She put oil in it Tuesday night, causing dark smoke to spew out of the muffler and prompting visits from the police and fire departments. Unsure of how to fix it, she decided to get by with candles at night, ice for her 91-year-old mother's medicated eye drops and "going to bed early."

Ida Crump said she weathered the storm just fine in Bellport until Tuesday, when workers removing a nearby tree inadvertently damaged a transformer. With a refrigerator full of chicken, pork chops and steaks, "The ice helps me a whole lot," she said.

Sal Sabio, a retired electrician from Coram, said he was frustrated by the fact other homes near his have power, while his doesn't. "All around us is all lit," he said.

He's already thrown out $400 to $500 worth of food and has been calling LIPA for updates. "We're assuming every day that it's going to be back on, but it never comes on," he said.

Sabio came by to get ice, his son Jason said, because, "they need milk for their coffee. I need cold drinks."

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