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Tropical Storm Isaias takes a toll on the North Shore

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Tropical Storm Isaias rolled across Nassau County Tuesday afternoon with relatively little rain but with sustained winds in the 30- to 50-mph range, with some gusts in excess of 70 mph, downing trees throughout the region, with some falling on homes. The North Shore was no exception.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, PSEG reported, “Tropical Storm Isaias was one of the strongest to reach the service area in years, causing widespread, severe damage. Some outages could last for an extended period. Strong winds and hazardous gusts downed trees, branches and wires, currently affecting more than 368,000 of our 1.1 million customers across Long Island and the Rockaways. We have already restored power to more than 36,000 customers.”

Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman said he left his home when the wind was strongest in the early afternoon, on his way to his office to officiate a wedding. As he stepped onto 8th Avenue, he said, he watched a tree snap and tumble into the street, completely blocking it.

But the village Department of Public Works was on hand within minutes, Lieberman said. (And the wedding went off without a hitch in his office at 3 p.m., just as the winds were dying down.) He commended the DPW and the Sea Cliff Fire Department for responding to numerous calls throughout the day, some of which, he said, reported life-threatening situations.

“We have seen this the last six months, being tested again and again, whether it’s by natural diseases or weather patterns, and including the fight for social justice,” Lieberman said. “No one can say that we as Sea Cliffians have not met the varied challenges.”

He added that he had been told Tuesday afternoon by PSEG said the entire North Shore was without power. On Wednesday morning, he said that power had been restored in some, but not all, areas of the village.

Among the most severely impacted streets in Sea Cliff was Littleworth Lane. Resident Chris Roberto said that he, his wife, Patty, and their son, Michael, were sitting on their porch as the wind blew from constantly changing directions. Many branches had blown down, Roberto said, by the time he heard a loud crack.

Suddenly, a nearby tree snapped and fell onto the road, followed minutes later by another. The second tumbled onto the power lines, blacking out the area. The only thing that saved a nearby home, Roberto said, was the fact that the second tree had landed on the first.

Village officials, he said, including Lieberman and Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy, arrived later in the day to assess the damage. Throughout the afternoon, Roberto said, he remained calm, having been through storms including Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“We weren’t stressed at all,” he said. “It was just kind of riding it out.”

Glen Head resident Gracie Donaldson experienced the pitfalls of commuting during a tropical storm when she headed home from her office on Glen Head Avenue, for what would normally be a four-minute drive. Instead of taking the avenue, she said, she was forced to take her chances on side streets. As she turned onto Rose Street, she avoided an electrical wire, only to be blocked by a fallen tree. She got out of her car to move a large branch out of the way, but abandoned that idea when a resident told her that another tree was going to come down soon.

So, Donaldson said, she doubled back to Glen Cove Avenue but was confronted by more fallen trees on various side streets. She finally made it to the intersection of Glen Cove Avenue and Glenwood Road, where the traffic light was out, but drivers were savvy enough to treat the corner like a four-way stop.

Donaldson finally got home after a half-hour of driving, and immediately called her father, who had been trying to reach her the entire time, on a landline to let him know she was safe.

The storm shut down the Long Island Rail Road throughout the afternoon Tuesday. A message on the LIRR site stated, “LIRR service is suspended systemwide due to high winds and hazardous conditions caused by Tropical Storm Isaias, including fallen trees, downed utility poles and power outages. We will resume service as soon as conditions safely allow.”

At press time on Wednesday, a statement on the railroad’s website said that trees and utility poles were being removed from tracks and that repairs were being made. Service was eventually restored.

Forecasters had predicted two to four inches of rain Tuesday afternoon, but the storm dumped most of the rain to the west, in New Jersey and upstate New York. Long Island was lashed by the storm’s outer rain and wind bands, reducing the precipitation totals. The storm also hit during low tide, reducing flooding in low-lying areas.