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Tropical Storm Isaias causes widespread power outage in Rockville Centre

Entire village loses power

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As Tropical Storm Isaias barreled across Long Island Tuesday, it hit Rockville Centre particularly hard, causing the entire village to lose power by late afternoon. With heavy winds and gusts up to 78 miles per hour, the storm downed trees and power lines throughout the area, from Hempstead Lake State Park to commercial and residential streets.

As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, 72 percent of the village had its power restored, according to Mayor Francis X. Murray, as is typical following a major storm. He said most customers will be restored within 24 to 48 hours, except areas of extensive damage. Crews will continue non-stop until power is back on for every resident, he said.

“One of the greatest challenges an electric utility faces is preparation for and recovery from a major weather event, such as Tropical Storm Isaias,” Murray said. “With winds over 75 miles per hour, the storm caused significant damage to utility and municipal infrastructure across the tri-state region. The storm also impacted communications systems, creating challenges in getting information to residents. We know this has also hindered their ability to reach us, and we thank them for their patience while we fixed the matter.”

In preparation for this storm, he said, the village activated its mutual aid process and reached out to other municipal utilities throughout New York to arrange for line crews to arrive either just prior or after the storm arrived.

“Due to the predicted storm, many of our normal responders were unable to commit to assist the village until after the storm passed,” Murray said. “In addition to the line crews, we had tree crews come in to help remove all the fallen trees throughout the village.”

The Village of Rockville Centre is one of three communities on Long Island to operate its own electric utility. Like many municipal utilities across New York State, Murray said, the village receives its power from several sources. The village gets about two-thirds of its energy from a long-term hydro power purchase agreement with the New York Power Authority. The village also purchases power, via the wholesale power market (NY-ISO), which is imported through transmission lines from PSEG-LI. It also has the capability of producing power through its own generation facilities.

“However, during Tropical Storm Isaias, the three transmission lines from PSEG-LI that feed the village went out of service,” Murray said, adding that PSEG-LI was able to restore these  lines at about 3 a.m. Wednesday. “While the Electric Department swiftly engaged our own power plant, numerous utility lines and poles throughout the village were taken down during the storm. Our internal crews, along with additional outside tree and distribution crews, were mobilized and are actively working on electric system repairs to restore power as quickly as possible.”

The Sandel Center is open today as a cooling center until 4 p.m. Visitors are asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

“We appreciate your patience during this outage,” Murray said, “and remind residents to stay away from downed power lines.”

Nottingham Road residents Josephine Feinstein and her son, Alex, found themselves in a long line for coffee at Kookaburra Coffee Company on North Village Avenue Wednesday morning after a big transformer blew out on their block Tuesday, causing them to lose power around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Josephine said a huge tree limb hit the roof of their house, causing minor damage.

"There was quite a lot going on in our area," Josephine said, noting that a neighbor lost a 100-year-old tree that was being removed this morning. “That’s why we went to get coffee.”

They waited in line for 40 minutes before finally getting their order shortly after 9 a.m., but said they did not mind the wait.

“They're great and we really have nothing to go back to,” Josephine said. She works from home and Alex, who is taking summer online classes at the University of Florida, is unable to log on without power. “We can’t do anything. We're just enjoying the nice day."

Briana Bonfiglio contributed to this story