LAKE GROVE, NY, AND LAKE RONKONKOMA, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — A normally heavily traveled roadway in Lake Grove and Lake Ronkonkoma has remained blocked since Tropical Storm Isaias roared through the area on Tuesday, knocking down trees and tearing utility wires from poles. Two days after the storm, Town of Brookhaven officials said the critical roadway remains too dangerous for driving—and they cannot reopen it until PSEG LI makes the area safe.
Just north of the “5 Corners” on the border of Lake Grove and Lake Ronkonkoma, a large tree fell halfway, held up by power lines, along Hawkins Avenue. The nearby utility pole adjacent to Lake Ronkonkoma Cemetery is cracked and tipped sideways—posing a hazard for the area. The Town of Brookhaven cannot begin to clear the tree until PSEG LI sends a crew to ensure the area is safe.
The roadway also regularly serves as an artery for ambulances to bring patients to Stony Brook University Hospital’s emergency department.
“We have directed one of PSEG’s crews to meet us at this location,” Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro told OnSachem. “We will remove the debris after they disentangle the tree limbs from their wires.”
Losquadro said PSEG LI has not yet sent enough crews to work alongside the town. PSEG LI and the town work in partnership, with PSEG LI making the area safe so the town can remove trees or large limbs blocking roadways.
“We didn’t get their crews embedded with us until yesterday,” Losquadro said. “Today we saw an increase of three crews for a total of 10. We could use twice that amount.”
The number of PSEG LI crews the town needs only includes those what work directly with the town. The number does not include the total number of PSEG LI crews deployed in neighborhoods across the township.
Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle’s Third District includes the “5 Corners,” the area with the large tree blocking Hawkins Road. He said PSEG LI “failed” its electric customers.
“The PSEG storm communication plan absolutely failed during Isaias,” LaValle said. “Communication between residents and the power authority is critical in these emergency situations. Residents not being able to report outages and receive information on what is going on is unacceptable. The fact that residents could not get in contact with PSEG through phone calls, text messaging, and online just to report an outage after PSEG spent millions of dollars to upgrade their systems should be thoroughly investigated.”
Also calling PSEG LI’s response to Tropical Storm Isaias a “failure,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday demanded an investigation into how the power utility prepared for and handled the storm. The governor was joined by local leaders—State Senator Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) and State Assemblyman Doug Smith (R-Holbrook)—calling for a probe into the response.
PSEG LI said that as of 9:45 a.m. today the utility worked through the night and restored approximately 300,000 customers affected by Tropical Storm Isaias, which the utility said was one of the strongest storms to hit the service area in years.
According to PSEG LI, the storm affected approximately 440,000 customers and fewer than 140,000 customers remain without power as of this morning’s update.
”Due to the large number of crews from other utilities brought into our service area before Tropical Storm Isaias, power restoration is progressing faster than can be displayed on the outage map,” PSEG LI said.
PSEG LI estimated 85% of customers will be restored by end of day Friday, with the remainder restored by end of day Saturday. More than 2,000 lineworkers, tree trimmers, and other personnel are working around the clock, in 16-hour shifts until every customer is restored, PSEG LI said.
More than 3,000 fallen trees or large limbs have been reported. PSEG LI tree crews and contractors have already cleared more than 500 locations. “They will continue to work nonstop to continue to clear debris,” PSEG LI said.
PSEG LI opened five Customer Outreach Centers to provide customers with free water and ice. The closest center to the Sachem area is located at 460 East Main Street in Patchogue. Additional centers are located at 1650 Islip Avenue, Brentwood; 175 E. Old Country Road, Hicksville; 250 Willis Avenue, Roslyn Heights; and Five Towns Shopping Center at 253-01 Rockaway Blvd., Woodmere.