At Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, November usually brings massive numbers of shoppers gearing up for the winter holiday season. But when the mall reopened Thursday following closure due to Hurricane Sandy, November also brought throngs of visitors for a different reason.
"We just wanted to get out and do something – anything – and we wanted to eat something other than canned soup," said Laurie Haddock of Huntington, who came to the Smith Haven Mall with her kids Erin, Leanne and Matthew when they discovered their own nearby mall was closed. Their home has been without electricity since about 3 p.m. on Monday.
"We all bought books so we'd have something to do at home," Haddock said.
Most schools across Long Island are still closed, which was why teenagers Danielle and Scarlett from Smithtown and Allie from Kings Park were at the mall midday on a Thursday.
"Anything to enjoy the daylight while we can," Scarlett said.
The theme of the day seemed to be a break from boredom.
"I think it's the same for everybody," said Edson Franza of Smithtown, who brought his kids Audrey and Ian along. "No power, no school, no nothing. There isn't too much to do."
For Mohabat Mustafa, age 8, and her Lake Grove family, the trip to the mall livened up the day a little bit.
"We were very bored," she said.
Her mother Shaokria, who works at Macy's, said it's a good thing the mall finally reopened. "It's something to do, at least," she said.
It was also a breath of fresh air for Bethani Schwartz and her son Andrew, of Port Jefferson Station. They live in a shelter where "everyone was getting on my nerves," Schwartz said, but the moment she saw buses were in service, she and her son ventured out. "It's so good. I was stuck in the house for three days," she said.
Sandy Ferrugia and her kids live in Massapequa, but are staying with family in Mt. Sinai. At the mall on Thursday they found not only a way to kill their boredom, but also a place where they could connect to the internet and use their phones once again.
"In here there's at least a signal, so you can get a call or text out," Ferrugia said. "We're so used to having 3G and internet. Being disconnected is really hard."
Mall employees noticed the traffic, too. Some said it was busier than usual for a Thursday afternoon.
"Everyone's here, all age groups, because there's nothing else to do," said Hud, a clerk at the calendar kiosk. "I thought either no one's going to be here because they don't know it's open, or everyone from Long Island will be here."