26 percent of Riverhead area still without power Tuesday

08/30/2011 11:57 AM |

Almost 26 percent of households and businesses in the Riverhead area, including parts of Southampton, were still without power as of noon Tuesday, more than 48 hours after the worst of Tropical Storm Irene swept across Long Island, according to Long Island Power Authority figures.

Calverton led the way for power outages in Riverhead Town, with 62 percent of households and businesses having no power, and in Wading River, 57 percent of people were powerless as of noon, according to LIPA’s power outage map, which is continually updated.

The hamlets of Riverhead, Northville, Aquebogue, Jamesport and Riverside in Riverhead Town, and Flanders, Riverside and Northampton in neighboring Southampton were faring much better, according to the LIPA figures, though some residences have reported much of Jamesport is still disconnected from the power grid. LIPA figures for Jamesport as of noon reported 91 power outages out of 1,350 customers.

LIPA sent out an update Tuesday afternoon on the efforts to restore power to the more than 500,000 customers affected by outages.

The utility said nearly 50 percent of Sunday’s peak amount of outages had been corrected by Tuesday morning.

“Approximately 253,000 of the 523,000 customers who have lost power as a result of the storm have been restored to service,” the release states. “Since Sunday afternoon, LIPA and National Grid have responded to 575,000 calls reporting outages and wires down. As of this morning, power has been restored to all hospitals within the LIPA service territory.

A total of 5,714 LIPA customers in the Riverhead area were trying to make due without electricity about noon Tuesday.

Judy Gnatowski of the Lakewood Park retirement community in Calverton said she had just purchased $200 worth of Omaha Steaks and did a big shopping trip at BJ’S Wholesale before learning the storm was going to hit.

She’s since plugged her refrigerator into her next-door neighbor’s outlet in the mobile home park off River Road. Her neighbor still has power, she said.

“I’m charging my phone in my car,” Ms. Gnatowski said. “I’m going to my daughter’s for showers. I toasted bagels on the barbecue.”

She said the biggest threat from the prolonged power outages in her community is the potential for food loss.

“All of us here are on pensions and Social Security,” she said.

Some in Jamesport were taking the power outages in stride Tuesday morning.

“Everybody here is looking out for each other,” said Jim McEntee, 49, of Vista Court, which was almost completely without power. “I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”

Mr. McEntee, who had served with the U.S. Navy’s Disaster Recovery Team in the mid-1980s, said his biggest concern was keeping his multiple sclerosis medicine cool.  To do so, he’s been restocking his cooler once a day with ice, though he said ice was hard to come by Sunday morning.

“That’s my primary concern,” he said of the medicine. “The stuff costs a ton and I stocked up before the storm hit.”

He said he’s seen LIPA trucks operating, and figured they were doing the best they could.

“We don’t see where all their problems are; They have been busy,” Mr. McEntee said. “Patience is a virtue.”

But as the each day goes by without juice, Bayview Inn & Restaurant owner Bob Patchell of Mattituck loses more money.

“We’d be full this week” he said. “This is the last big week of summer.”

The building lost power about 5 a.m. Sunday, he said, and has also been without cable, internet or phone.

If the outages last through Friday, he said he could expect to lose between $30,000 and $40,000 in business. He said the company has already lost about $3,000 in food, though some of the pricier steaks were taken to his chef’s house for refrigeration.

He said the restaurant was “dead, dead” Saturday before the storm, a night he would typically serve about 120 people.

“We did maybe 10 covers,” he said.

The power authority was scheduled to hold an 11:30 a.m. press conference in Hicksville to update the public on their efforts.

LIPA NUMBERS FOR RIVERHEAD AREA

As of noon Tuesday:

Hamlet                   Customers Affected      Customers Served

Wading River                    1,999                       3,531

Calverton                           3,203                       5,146

Riverhead                                11                        6,837

Northville                                69                          933

Riverside/Northampton     108                      1,305

Flanders                                  140                      1,763

Total:                                     5,714                    22,187

Laurel, which straddles Riverhead and Southold towns, is listed as Southold Town on the LIPA power outages map, which reports less than five out of 911 customers in Laurel have been affected by outages. LIPA lists Wading River as Riverhead Town, even though some of that hamlet is in Brookhaven.

Check back at RiverheadNewsReview.com for continuing coverage.

mwhite@timesreview.com

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