More than 80 percent of Long Islanders woke up powerless on Tuesday after crippling winds from Hurricane Sandy downed trees, flooded roads and tore down utility lines across the bulk of Nassau and Suffolk counties and the Rockaway Peninsula.
As of 3 p.m., 940,000 of the region's 1.1 million Long Island Power Authority customers stood without power, a number that was relatively unchanged since Tuesday morning. LIPA has already said it could take up to 10 days to restore power.
Calling the storm an "unprecedented disaster," LIPA in its Tuesday afternoon update told locals that much of its early work will focus on assessing each area.
"It is critically important that we make sure hospitals, other critical facilities, and emergency services are up and running," the utility said in a statement.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said the the state's Public Service Commission will watch LIPA's response to the outages.
The utility told Newsday that it will first target damages to its major distribution lines, which deliver the most power. Because of that, locals could be waiting a while before crews get to work in their neighborhoods.
LIPA also said it has brought in extra workers to help.
"The enormity of this storm has strained the resources of utilities in its path. This limits the number of additional restoration crews available to assist us in getting the power back on," LIPA said.
The storm, dubbed Frankenstorm early in its forecasting due to its size closeness to Halloween, made landfall in southern New Jersey Monday night, causing local devastation. But the monster storm wrought havoc throughout much of the East Coast, dumping a foot of snow in West Virgina and putting much of lower Manhattan under water during the storm surge.
Nearly 8.2 million people were without power in the East Coast Tuesday, and the death toll from the storm stood at 83.
On Long Island, flooding swamped coastal areas such as Long Beach and Fire Island in the south and Port Washington and Port Jefferson in the north. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Tuesday said the county is running aerial searches over Fire Island to look for survivors.
Hurricane Sandy has eclipsed the outage numbers wrought by Hurricane Irene in 2011, which left 500,000 in the dark, and Hurricane Gloria in 1985, which caused 850,000 outages.
LIPA also offered the following tips to locals.
- Stay away from ANY downed wire and report it to LIPA immediately, anytime at 1-800-490-0075.
- Electric wires that are entangled in debris may not be visible.
- Telephone and Cable TV wires and even standing water can become electrified when in contact with electric wires.
- A fallen tree can be a tempting playground for children. Please keep children away from all storm debris.
- Don't pile storm debris in the streets or near utility poles to keep them clear for repair crews and other emergency responders.
- If you have lost power, unplug appliances and other electronics as protection from power surges.