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Power restored to Merrick Road business district after two-day shutdown

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Power was lost for about 48 hours at eateries, shops and supermarkets along Merrick Road in Merrick, from the Four Towns Fire Training Center to Babylon Turnpike, beginning Tuesday afternoon as Tropical Storm Isaias delivered a devastating blow to Long Island.

Best Market, Trader Joe's and Tomato & Basil Pizzeria were among the Merrick stores that were closed for at least two days, their parking lots virtually empty except for a handful of employees' cars. The street lights along Merrick Road, a Nassau County thoroughfare, were restored in late Thursday afternoon.

A downed tree on Merrick Road, just west of Best Market, appears to have been the cause of the outage. The tree, which fell in front of the Four Towns Fire Training Center, pulled wires down with it, and blocked the south side of the road for two days. The road was cleared for traffic Friday morning, but the sidewalk remained blocked.

Tim Hoffmann, an employee at Best Market, said the store was told Wednesday that power could be restored by the following evening, which proved to be the case. An employee who answered the phone at Best Market Friday morning said the store reopened and was in the process of restocking its perishables as trucks arrive.

“We lost power about 2 p.m. Tuesday and right now everyone is doing their best to keep the store clean,” Hoffmann said Thursday morning. “We are in the process of removing anything that’s melting and causing a mess. Anything needing to be refrigerated or frozen was thrown out already or is in the process of being thrown out. We lost massive amounts of stock.”

Frank Lonigro, owner of Tomato & Basil Pizzeria, which is next door to Best Market, was still in the process of trashing precious inventory on Thursday morning. “I’m throwing out easily $10,000 worth of food,” said Lonigro, who noted the business was without power for 12 days when Superstorm Sandy hit in October of 2012. “It’s impossible to salvage anything when the power is out for more than an hour or so,” he added. “Even after we get power back, it’s going to take me a day or two before I’m prepared to reopen. It’s rough.”

At Bottoms Up Liquor, owner Tom Lin said he remained open for business but was limited to cash transactions while the power was out.

An employee who answered the phone at Bagel Plaza on Friday morning said the store could reopen as soon as Saturday. He said almost all of its inventory, including dough, salads, cream cheeses, milks and cases of eggs had to be thrown out. “Once the power goes out for a few hours, that’s all it takes,” he said.

An employee at Trader Joe’s on Merrick Road would only confirm the store reopened Thursday in just a matter of hours after power was restored.

Just to the west, the Town of Hempstead's 52-acre Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve remained closed as of Friday morning for storm repairs. The town's garbage-transfer station at the site was open, and a line of cars extended from the station north to Merrick Road, with people dropping off loads of yard waste, tree branches and house siding, all ripped off by Isaias's powerful winds.