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Without Power, a Different Life on Long Island

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. — As a chilly nightfall returned to Long Island,  some 370,000 customers remained without electricity nearly a week after  superstorm Sandy, forcing residents in the suburbs across the region to  adopt an austere new way of life.

They wore layers of clothing throughout the day to deal with the  plummeting temperatures. They spent their waking hours traveling from  location to location in search of an active electrical current that  might charge their cellphones. They stood on gas-station lines for  hours, orange cans in hand.

Faced with dwindling fuel supplies, some drove less. In  darkened neighborhoods where looters were widely feared, they helped  keep watch on each other’s houses.

“It’s like a bad Stephen King novel,” said Michael Benado, 55 years  old, a licensed loan officer and avid golfer whose house near Seaford  Harbor, N.Y., flooded and remains without power.

The Long Island Power Authority said it had reenergized 675,000  customers by Sunday, but large swaths of Long Island remain in the dark  as residents face some of the most widespread and prolonged blackouts in Sandy’s aftermath.

An extended trip back to the pre-electrical era has forced many to slow down and remember a less distracted way of life.

“You might as well go 20 miles per hour and help people and slow  down,” said Mr. Benado, one of several residents waiting to use public  showers at Cantiage Park in Hicksville on Sunday afternoon.

Some said they’ve fallen into a new routine — something that felt regular, if not quite comfortable.

“We have to make sure everything’s taken care of before the dark  comes,” said Danielle Ferguson, 34, of Hicksville. “You have to make  sure the candles are lit and the flashlights are out before 5 o’clock.”

Ms. Ferguson, a medical assistant, said the adjustment had been  hardest on her children, ages 10, 12 and 14. The family lost power a  week ago, last Sunday.

“They’ve been adjusting because they’re constantly on the computer at home,” she said. “They’re learning how to play like kids, like when we  were kids. I kind of like the adjustment in that way.”

Still, as the nights get colder, she worries about her children’s  asthma, which could be exacerbated by the cold air. “It’s scary, you  don’t know what to do,” she said. “We’re bundling up.”

Ms. Ferguson and her husband, Mark Capone, 39, a dietary aide at a  nursing home, said they’re now using only one vehicle between them,  instead of three. The couple was also waiting to use public showers  opened by the local government for residents without power.

“It’s hard, it’s depressing,” Mr. Capone said. “It’s just not fun. This is the first time I’m taking a shower in a week.”

Chris Hirx, a 44-year-old sign painter from Coram, said he has seen  Long Islanders donating clothes, sharing gasoline and “throwing  extension cords over fences to connect to the neighbors that people have never spoken to.”

“You’ve got a small percentage of the population whose mettle has  been tested, and they’re impatient and rightly so,” he said. “What I’m  seeing more of is a greater percent of the population that’s stepping  up. They’re licking their wounds, and their service to others has  greatly increased.”

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, in an interview Sunday, urged residents without power to take shelter with family or friends as  temperatures drop. Residents can also stay at four Red Cross shelters.

Mr. Mangano said he was proud of the way his residents have acted  after widespread flooding, a week without power and dwindling gasoline.

“The people of Nassau County are determined to rebuild and bring the  county back to what it once was,” he said. “When visiting residents, the emotions are high. They range from despair to determination to rebuild  our county.”

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Posted by on November 5, 2012. Filed under NY News,Slider. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.