Hundreds in Valley Stream remained without electricity on Friday, including a handful of businesses, four days after Tropical Storm Isaias swept through the area causing substantial damage to power lines across the neighborhood.
By the afternoon, roughly 375 Valley Stream homes and businesses lacked power, according to PSEG Long Island. The chief culprit appeared to be the more than 100 trees and branches reportedly downed by the storm’s fierce winds.
Except for a handful of cars and homes, including one badly damaged on Dogwood Road, the worst of the destruction was largely limited to electrical, telephone and cable transmission lines. But for food establishments affected by the outages, the days-long wait for restored service has been devastating.
At the Chicken Coop on Rockaway Avenue, Omar Carrilo, father of the Columbian eatery’s owner, said the restaurant had been without partial power since the storm struck on Tuesday. Although the lights remained on, without the voltage of electricity required to power its refrigerators, restaurant staff were forced to throw away between $10,000 to $15,000 worth of meat, dairy and vegetables, he said. Additionally, its grill ventilation blower, which runs off of the same lines, remained inoperable, which meant staff could only serve certain foods.
Between Isaias and the coronvirus pandemic, “We’re losing here, we’re losing there,” Carrilo said. “It just doesn’t stop.”
The results are particularly debilitating for the Chicken Coop because, to ease the pressures on eateries from the pandemic, the village has closed Rockaway to traffic Fridays and Saturdays this summer to allow for on-street dining. It is on these weekend evenings when the restaurant has picked up considerable and much-needed business, but according to Carrilo, PSEG estimates power won’t be restored until Saturday night. He hopes the village might consider extending the street closure to Sunday considering the circumstances, but in the meantime he said, “We’ll serve what we can. We can’t close.”
Next door, Vyancka Kilimet, owner of specialty cake and cupcake bakery the Little Sugar Shop, has found herself in a similar situation. “It’s been really bad,” she said.
Without refrigeration to keep her cakes from melting, Kilimet said she has had to cancel all of her orders for the week, resulting in a loss, she estimated, of between $8,000 to $10,000 in business.
“On top of this pandemic, we’ve been trying to balance things out, and survive” she said. “and then all of a sudden this.”
At U.S. Bagels, also within the same strip of Rockaway food establishments, worker Ivan Karrasfield said that without electricity to power its large, walk-in refrigerator, the bagel shop has no place to store its dough and cream cheese. As a result, it has had to purchase bagels from elsewhere for the week, and store the cream cheese in the remaining refrigerators that still work. Customers have complained. “They’re used to our flavor,” Karrasfield said.
It’s been a rough week for the shop, he said, “But here we are.”
Although the financial pain has been severe, the partial outage appeared to be isolated to a handful of businesses on Rockaway. Half a block north, staff at Italian bakery Il Corso Pastry Shop, said they had not experienced any power disruptions.