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Oceanside, Island Park residents still dealing with aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias

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When Tropical Storm Isaias rocked Nassau County on Tuesday, Harbor Isle resident Jeanne DeBraccio Gidwill said she couldn't believe the strength of the wind.

"That wind was like nothing we had every experienced," she said. "We've lived in Harbor Isle for 16 years now. We've been through Hurricane Sandy, so we can get through anything."

DeBraccio Gidwill said there was one block in her neighborhood that lost power after a downed tree fell onto power lines that were at least 50 years old. She noted in the days following the storm, trees were starting to get cleaned up and PSEG Long Island restored power to the block. 

However, Oceanside resident Angela Graci said her family is still in the dark as it awaits PSEG to restore their power. At around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the first tree on her block fell, taking down an electric box, and leaving live wires in her yard. A half an hour later, another tree fell on top of the already fallen tree, exacerbating the issue. 

"Both trees are on the roof of the house with a live wire," she said. "We have reached out to PSEG since, with no response besides a busy signal. "

Graci said she has contacted local elected officials, but has yet to garner a response. She added that the trees cannot be removed until the live wire is dealt with. 

 Isaias, a swift-moving temptest that slammed Nassau Tuesday, knocked down more than a thousand trees and some 338 electric and phone wires here, said County Executive Laura Curran during a news briefing Wednesday morning.

No fatalities were reported in Nassau during the storm, Curran said.

At the peak, there were some 435,000 outages across Long Island, and the county executive criticized PSEG for what she described as a lack of communication by the utility during the storm, saying people were unable to get through to report downed wires.

A message on the PSEG website states that people can report outages in the following ways:

"Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454), report it online, through our app, or call 800-490-0075."

"Tropical Storm Isaias was one of the strongest to reach the service area in years, causing widespread, severe damage," PSEG Long Island said in a statement. "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."

Local elected officials, however, have come down on PSEG Long Island for its storm response. 

"While a powerful storm is beyond anyone's control, the breakdown of these entities' communications systems prohibiting Long Islanders from contacting customer service and reporting power outages is a deeply troubling failure that must be probed," State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said. "This communications collapse is unacceptable to hardworking PSEG-LI ratepayers, many of whom were seeking to report dangerous situations created by downed power lines and live wires. Long Islanders are understandably frustrated, not only from having lost power, but also as a result of PSEG-LI's inability to effectively receive and disseminate information during the storm and to respond appropriately to outages across the Island."

Assemblywoman Judy Griffin wrote a letter calling for the Public Service Commission to investigate PSEG' and the Long Island Power Authority's prepareness for the storm.

"There is no reason why a large utility company is unable to have their customers report dangerous live wires, outages and extended restoration time," she wrote. "After Hurricane Sandy, there shouldn't be any more excuses. Long Islanders deserve a reliable utility system, and both PSEG-LI and LIPA need to do better."

In a news release, PSEG announced that due to the extent of the outages, it has opened new customer outreach centers, which are open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. (while supplies last), providing people with free water and ice. The locations are:

--Hicksville, 175 E. Old Country Road

--Roslyn, 250 Willis Ave. (Roslyn Heights)

--Patchogue, 460 E Main Street

--Brentwood, 1650, Islip Ave.

--Five Towns Shopping Center – 253-01 Rockaway Blvd.

Oceanside and Island Park residents have reported multiple power outages starting Tuesday afternoon. According to PSEG Long Island, Oceanside had 177 customers without power, Village of Island Park had five and Barnum Isle and Harbor Isle had no more than 10 combined as of Tuesday at 5 p.m. The estimated restoration time was Aug. 6 at 2 p.m., except for Barnum Isle, where power was to be restored by Wednesday at 1:45 p.m. As of Friday, many still remained without power.

Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty said crews quickly began working to restore power and clean up trees. 

"In the village, we have some power outages," he said Wednesday. "PSEG is on it, doing their usual fantastic job. There was some tree damage for homeowners and some minor damage to residences. In short, we were very lucky."

Briana Bonfiglio contributed to this story.