Tropical Storm Isaias cast a glancing blow on the South Fork Tuesday — the storm tracked just west of New York City — but its power was felt locally, as thousands of people lost power due to downed trees and power lines, and area residents were left cleaning up pockets of damage Wednesday morning from fallen trees, damaged homes, wrecked cars that were struck by falling limbs, and a spattering of house fires from downed electrical lines.
More than 400,000 customers lost power during the Tuesday afternoon storm that saw limited rain and wind gusts as high as 70 mph, PSEG Long Island reported on Tuesday night. As of Wednesday morning, the utility reported more than 180,000 customers in Suffolk County were still without power, with more than 2,000 in Southampton and more than 800 in East Hampton.
It could take up to a week for electric service to be fully restored in some areas of Long Island, PSEG Long Island said.
East Hampton Village Mayor Richard Lawler signed an emergency declaration on Wednesday allowing the use of gas-powered leaf blowers for storm cleanup for five days.
A press release from Southampton Town officials on Tuesday night reported that there were scattered power outages and some downed trees throughout the town, and that police, highway workers and fire departments responded to “dozens of calls, including non-working traffic lights, trees down onto roadways and other hazards caused by wind damage.”
Residents were advised to expect long delays in power restoration, as outages were widespread across the entire island, and urged residents to treat all downed power lines as active and to “stay away from them.”
On Wednesday morning, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman noted that a cooling and charging station was opened at the Hampton Bays Senior Center on Montauk Highway.
Many residents were startled Tuesday afternoon when the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Suffolk County from 2:05 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Residents were advised to seek shelter. According to the weather service, at the time, a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located 10 miles south of Southampton, moving north at 65 mph.
Earlier in the day, Southampton Town beaches were closed to swimming due to expected dangerous conditions brought by the storm. The weather service predicted swells of up to 10 feet and wind gusts of up to 70 mph.