Officials tour LI seaside village slammed by Sandy
By Associated Press
Pat McAllister wept openly in the arms of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday as she described the horror of surviving rising floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy.
The Lindenhurst, N.Y., woman was one of thousands of Long Island residents who disregarded mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm, and confesses now that it was a foolhardy decision. "I would never, ever stay again," she told reporters after speaking with Gillibrand, who toured the Long Island seaside village with Senate colleague Charles Schumer, Rep. Peter King and local elected officials.
Lindenhurst, located on the Great South Bay on the island's south shore, was one of dozens of communities devastated by rising flood waters and tropical storm-force winds that knocked out power to nearly 1 million electric customers earlier this week.
"It was very frightening," McAllister said. "The waves came in so fast."
The elected officials were taken down Atlantic Avenue, where homeowners' soaked couches, furniture, mattresses and other household items destroyed by the storm were left on their front lawns to be carted away to the town dump. Some of the homes they saw were knocked completely off their foundations.
Schumer told reporters afterward: "I've never seen such damage like this. Never."
Several blocks away, Patty McClinchey and her brother, David Barton, had just had a visit from King, their congressman. They were packing up what were left of McClinchey's belongings from a home she and her husband and son had lived in for 26 years. "I lost everything," she said. "Every piece of furniture."
She said she doubted the family would ever return to the house to live.
"Everybody's doing the best they can. You know, I'm devastated. I probably lost my home," she said, but also counted her blessings. "I feel bad for people who had loss of life."
The Long Island Power Authority said it was working as quickly as possible to restore power throughout Long Island, but there were more than 500,000 in the dark as of late Friday afternoon. LIPA Chief Michael Hervey said at a press conference with the elected officials that 7,000 workers, including many from utilities around the country, were spread across Long Island working to restore power. But Hervey conceded it still could take up to another week before all the restorations are complete.
"We will get there as fast as we can," he said, noting crews from as far away as Canada and Florida had arrived on Long Island on Friday. "This is a nationwide effort right now."
Schumer said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was dispatching personnel to assist with the removal of fallen trees and other debris that may be hindering the restoration of power. Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 2,000 National Guard troops also were being sent to assist in the cleanup.
Also Friday, officials announced that the food bank Island Harvest would begin delivering thousands of sandwiches and juice boxes to residents struggling without power for a fifth day. Communities were to be alerted by bullhorns in affected neighborhoods that food was available at numerous fire department facilities across Nassau County. That effort is in addition to several food distribution programs being operated by the Red Cross at facilities around Long Island.