Isaias packs a punch, downing trees in Glen Cove


Tropical Storm Isaias, a swift-moving tempest that slammed Nassau County on Tuesday, knocked down more than a thousand trees and some 338 electrical and phone wires, County Executive Laura Curran said at a news briefing Wednesday morning.

No fatalities were reported, Curran said.

Thirty county crews worked through the night and into the morning, removing fallen trees and storm debris from county roads, which, she said, were mostly passable.

There was relatively little rain, but the storm brought sustained winds in the 30- to 50-mph range, with gusts in excess of 70 mph, which caused some trees to fall onto homes.

Chief William Whitton of the Glen Cove Police Department said that most of the city was still without power on Wednesday morning, and there were many trees down as well. 

“Cool story — the trees all around our church and home have fallen all over the property,” said Tammy Lanham, whose husband, the Rev. Tommy Lanham, is the pastor of Glen Cove Christian Church. “No damage to our home, and only a damaged corner to the gutter to report.”

The county reported 135,000 power outages as of Wednesday morning, Curran said. At the peak of the storm, there were some 435,000 outages across Long Island, and Curran criticized PSEG for what she described as a lack of communication during the storm, saying that customers were unable to get through to the utility to report downed wires.

"The stress factors are exasperated by the Covid crisis," State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, whose representation includes Glen Cove, said. "We have been through worse than this in the past and this is something effecting not only Long Island, but the entire eastern sea board. PSEG had advised that as of this morning, there were still about 330,000 who were still without power and they're now advising that as of tomorrow, 80 percent of service will be restored." 

Lavine was told that a fraction of customers may get their power back as late as Saturday . 

Among other technical complications, Lavine said, the pandemic is causing workers to have to social distance and wear their masks on a hot summer day as they cut down trees and restore powerlines. "That does not mean that the state of New York will not be looking into the reason why there was such a massive lost of power in the first place." 

A message on the PSEG website stated that people could report outages several ways: “Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454), report it online, through our app, or call 800-490-0075.”

Power outages were also reported in western portions of the county, in communities like Valley Stream, Franklin Square, Lynbrook and Rockville Centre, along with those farther east, like Salisbury, Levittown and Wantagh-Seaford. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, PSEG reported the following:

“Tropical Storm Isaias was one of the strongest to reach the service area in years, causing widespread, severe damage. Some outages could last for an extended period. Strong winds and hazardous gusts downed trees, branches and wires, currently affecting more than 368,000 of our 1.1 million customers across Long Island and the Rockaways. We have already restored power to more than 36,000 customers.”

The storm shut down the Long Island Rail Road throughout the afternoon. A message on the LIRR site stated, “LIRR service is suspended system wide due to high winds and hazardous conditions caused by Tropical Storm Isaias, including fallen trees, downed utility poles and power outages. We will resume service as soon as conditions safely allows.”

At press time on Wednesday, a statement on the railroad’s website said that trees and utility poles were being removed from tracks and that repairs were being made.

Forecasters had predicted two to four inches of rain Tuesday afternoon, but Isaias tracked farther west, unleashing its heaviest rain in New Jersey and upstate New York. The storm’s outer rain and wind bands lashed Long Island, where there was much less precipitation total. The storm also hit during low tide, reducing flooding in low-lying areas.