Entire trees toppled onto tracks, roads and homes Tuesday in an intense, predawn storm that knocked out power on a sweltering day to about 68,000 customers, including thousands who might not get power back until Thursday.
Storms that carried winds of up to 60 mph jolted Long Islanders awake before dawn, then wrecked their rail and road commutes. No serious injuries were reported, Suffolk police said.
PSEG Long Island said electricity for the remaining 10,000 to 12,000 customers was expected to be restored by Thursday..
The severe weather primarily swept through northern and western Suffolk, where the mayor of Port Jefferson Village declared an emergency and Brookhaven Town mobilized 200 highway workers.
"We're treating it like a major snowstorm, clearing primary roads and then secondary roads," said Brookhaven Town highway spokesman Frank Petrignani.
Complaints flared as PSEG fielded 40,000 calls and dispatched 1,100 restoration workers, including line crews and tree trimmers. Crews from sister utilities in New Jersey and in New York City arrived to help and plans were in the works to roll out another 400 to 500 workers today, utility officials said.
In Brookhaven Town, where 21,000 people had no power, Supervisor Edward P. Romaine accused the utility of promising six crews to the town's hard-hit North Shore communities but sending only two by 4 p.m., leaving many roads still unpassable.
"The town cannot remove many of the trees until those that are entangled with power lines are made safe by the PSEG crews who can turn off the power to those lines," Romaine said.
Later, PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the utility provided all the crews Brookhaven had requested by 5:30 p.m.
PSEG Long Island president Dave Daly expected repairs to be complete Thursday and said the time needed reflected the intensity of the storm.
"This is whole trees coming down," Daly said by phone as he toured outage areas around Stony Brook and Setauket.
One big problem: The number of "single" outages was higher than expected -- more than 600 by mid afternoon, PSEG officials said.
"Each single outage requires a touch point," Weir said, referring to dispatching of crews to each outage location.
Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant told News 12 Long Island that a state of emergency has been declared in the village. Standing on her property amid fallen trees, Garant said officials have "asked everyone to stay home, stay off the roads" to make way for cleanup.
PSEG said its Riverhead and Coram customer offices will open 8 a.m. Wednesday with charging stations, water and ice for people without power.
With Gary Dymski, William Murphy and John Valenti