The majority of East End residents whose electricity was knocked out by Hurricane Sandy more than two weeks ago were plugged back in as of early this week, even after a nor’easter that blew through last week caused further damage to the region’s electric system and slowed restoration efforts.
Nevertheless, small pockets of the South Fork remained in the dark about 15 days post-Sandy, and life for this new class of one-percenters and others who went powerless for an extended period of time has been out of the ordinary.
More than 98 percent of Long Island Power Authority customers who can safely receive power because their homes were not flooded or destroyed had power returned as of Tuesday afternoon, LIPA said.
An earlier goal of 90-percent restoration by last Wednesday, November 7, was derailed by the midweek nor’easter, which dumped sleet on the East End and snow on more western parts of the island. LIPA said, however, that crews continued working through the night of the latest storm, which came that Wednesday and into Thursday morning, November 8, a little more than a week after Hurricane Sandy knocked out most of LIPA’s system on Long Island.
As of Tuesday morning, East Hampton Town had eight customers without power and Southampton Town had 39, according to the power authority. Approximately 70,000 customers in both towns were without power immediately after Sandy.
The fraction of powerless people in East Hampton Town were in Montauk, Northwest Harbor and Springs.
In Southampton Town on Tuesday afternoon, Westhampton Beach still had 12 powerless customers and Hampton Bays six. East Quogue, Flanders, North Haven, North Sea, Pine Valley, Quogue, Remsenburg-Speonk, Sagaponack, Shinnecock Hills, the Southampton Village area and Westhampton each had fewer than five, according to LIPA.
Officials said that before power could be restored to East End homes damaged by flood waters, inspectors must ensure that the home’s electrical system and equipment are safe to reenergize. The storm surge brought by Hurricane Sandy submerged electrical meters, panels, wires and outlets in some houses, and even if that equipment does not need to be repaired, it requires inspection before power can be restored.
Southampton Town residents may call a Suffolk County licensed electrical contractor or private inspection agency to inspect the property and complete a survey, which can be found on the town website. The survey must then be notarized by both the electrician and the homeowner before being submitted to the Southampton Town chief building inspector, who will forward it to the Long Island Power Authority.
Dean Speir of Westhampton Beach said his power returned on Friday afternoon. “You have no idea how glad I am that we have it back,” he said, joyfully.
During his time in the dark, he made do with generators, candles and friends, but most of all with his two dogs.
Without lights at night, he and his wife Jeanne would go to bed around 7:30 p.m. and “haul the dogs in around us,” he said, referring to Gracie and Rosco, whom he called “little furnaces.”
Sandy Alfieri, a resident of the Riverwoods mobile home park—a community for adults 55 and over that was formerly known as MacLeod’s—in Riverside, said her power returned at midnight on November 3. “The lights are on. It’s a beautiful thing,” she said.
“The worst was how cold it was at night. I dreaded going home. I don’t know if it’s because mobile homes don’t hold the heat very well, but it was 43 degrees,” she said. “You don’t sleep.”
Staff writer Carol Moran contributed to this story.