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Posted on: August 12, 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias Post Storm Damage & Cleanup Update

Storm Update

Tropical Storm Isaias left copious damage in its wake to the Town of Smithtown, comparable to the devastation of Hurricane Gloria in 1985. The Town of Smithtown has compiled a detailed assessment of the destruction in addition to important information regarding storm cleanup, power restoration and contact information for those in need of further assistance.

Town Damage Assessment:

Town buildings and property were badly damaged including structural breaks in the Salt Barn at the Highway Department and the flat roof coming off at the Parks Department in Kings Park. Additionally, we sustained minor damage to the Assessor’s and the Suffolk County Water Authority buildings, which we’ve already begun repairs to. Almost every town park has had trees uprooted in addition to all three beaches sustaining damage. As of this morning, we’ve estimated more than 400 town trees (in the town right of way) were either uprooted or wiped out. That number is expected to increase exponentially as we continue to clear sumps and those trees leaning on utility poles and wires. A massive cleanup and repair operation is currently underway.

Parks & Beaches:

All parks have now been opened for the public to enjoy. Landing Country & Golf Club is also now fully in operation. Short and Long Beaches are open for use. Callahan’s Beach is still without power as of this morning and will remain closed to the public until it has been restored. Residents should download the Town of Smithtown Mobile App (Available for free on the Google Play & Apple App Store) for real time updates on Callahan’s Beach and other storm related news.

The Cleanup: 

During and after the storm on Tuesday evening, highway crews prioritized path clearing for emergency vehicles and removed trees blocking roads until nightfall. On Wednesday, crews coordinated with PSEG to clear the roads of those remaining trees with live wires tangled to them. Hauling debris and brush began promptly Wednesday morning at 5:30 AM.

The Highway Department led by Superintendent Robert Murphy formed a massive partnership between the Parks Department, Municipal Services Facility and Traffic Safety, along with four subcontractors to coordinate storm cleanup. Crews are working from 5:30AM-8PM Monday through Friday, on Saturday from 6AM to 6PM and on Sunday from 8AM to 2 PM. Cleanup crews have been assigned to every hamlet. However, larger crews have been assigned to clear some of the hardest hit areas, such as the hamlets of Commack and Kings Park, the Forestwood area, Brooksite Drive at 347, the Pines, Bow Drive below 347 & Townline Rd, and Browns Road. Our Urban Forester has marked trees and stumps for removal, which are then mapped out digitally for a planned for excavation schedule.

Additionally, residents are reminded to separate leaf bags from brush. Highway crews are using heavy machinery and loaders to clear brush. This process is slowed greatly if crews have to manually remove leaf bags, which can also damage equipment.

The amount of brush and tree debris from this storm is massive. To date we’ve collected approximately 2400 tons of brush and debris at the Municipal Services Facility and there is at least 1,000 tons of debris at the Montclair Yard. That number is expected to increase greatly as every home in the township has some form of brush at the curb. We expect that residents will continue to remove brush as many have down trees on private property which require professional removal. The Director of our Municipal Services Facility team Neal Sheehan orchestrated the weighing and grinding of materials upon arrival at MSF and has made arrangements to grind brush at the Montclair Yard. This will permit crews to clear larger amounts of brush at a faster pace.

This cleanup process has been orchestrated much to the credit of department leadership at the Highway Department by Robert Murphy, Parks Buildings & Grounds by Joe Arico, Municipal Services Facility by Neal Sheehan, and Traffic Safety by Mitch Crowley. In addition to their leadership, Environmental Director David Barnes and Solid Waste Coordinator Mike Engelmann have done extensive work to ensure the town can complete the task of a rigorous cleanup faster while caring for our local ecosystem.

Resident Safety Post Storm:

Residents should attempt to keep all brush clear from blocking any fire hydrants. Public Safety and Smithtown Fire Marshals have noted that residents still using generators should take a moment to confirm that the exhaust is facing outwards and at least 20’ away from a building. Dozens of individuals have been rushed to the hospital with CO poisoning. In addition, numerous homes have been damaged by fire caused by generators incorrectly positioned.

Power: 

Many residents have contacted the Office of the Supervisor requesting information and intervention regarding power outages. As of this morning, there are still approximately 400 homes within the township who are still without power. Supervisor Wehrheim and his office have been in touch with PSEG’s administration almost hourly on a daily basis, tracking progress of neighborhoods without power. We requested information to provide the community with insight into the scale of destruction, system damage and what is being done to repair the power to all.

From PSEG:

There was significant damage to the backbone of the system. This is the transmission lines and substations. In order to get the system restored, crews need to work on these areas first before they can move into the neighborhoods; which is the distribution system. While crews are restoring the backbone, customers will not see the trucks. PSEG Long Island assures you they are working around the clock to restore power. While we have experienced issues with our communications systems, at no time did these challenges impact restoration efforts. We are aware of the number of customers experiencing an outage.

As we complete the restoration of the backbone of the system, transmission and substation work, and finish surveying the distribution system, we have a better sense of the magnitude of the work it will take to complete these jobs. As we continue to assess the damage (many times in unmarked vehicles), estimated restoration times will be refined. We realize this is frustrating and appreciate our customers’ understanding of the magnitude of the damage the storm created.

For more information on this, please visit: https://www.psegliny.com/outages/restorationprocess

Wildlife Rescue & Storm Damage:

Our Animal Control Officers were busy responding to a number of wildlife calls, responding to everything from a fawn trapped in bamboo, to numerous tangled birds, a distressed cooper’s hawk, a raven with a broken leg, an injured robin, multiple baby squirrels thrown from trees, and baby bunnies trapped in mud. They also rescued three infant kittens and a loose dog. All Wildlife rescues were sent to STAR Foundation or Sweetbriar for rehabilitation.

STAR Foundation was badly hit by the Tropical Storm, with damage sustained to the wolf enclosure in addition to a number of down trees and grounds damage. STAR rehabbers are inundated with around the clock rescue work and are badly in need of financial assistance. Sweetbriar Nature Center was also badly damaged with numerous trees down and the loss of power for days, threatening their food stock and medical supplies which need to be kept at a cool temperature.

To Help Donate to STAR Foundation please visit: www.savetheanimalsrescue.org/how-you-can-help

To Help Sweetbriar Nature Center please visit: https://www.sweetbriarnc.org/

USEFUL NUMBERS:

Power Outages - PSEG Information: View PSEG Long Island’s outage map: Click Here

To report and receive status updates on an outage Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454) or to report an outage online visit www.psegliny.com

To register, have your account number available and text REG to PSEGLI (773454)

Downed wires should always be considered “live.” Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything contacting the wire. To report a downed wire, call PSEG Long Island’s 24-hour Electric Service number: 1-800-490-0075

Stranded Vehicles: If there is an emergency, please dial 9-11 immediately. All non life-threatening calls can be directed to the Department of Public Safety by calling (631) 360-7553 

Suffolk 311: Suffolk County 311 is a central call center available to residents who do not know which number to call for any non-emergency. Residents can reach the 311 line Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM or leave messages after hours.

Animals & Family Pets: To report animals in distress, strays, or other loose domestic or wild animals please call (631) 360-7575 

Elderly Neighbors & Special Needs individuals: Always check on your neighbors living with disabilities, special needs, or senior citizens. Make sure they have an emergency phone, plenty of water, food and blankets. Ask if they have someone to call in the event of an emergency. If further intervention is required please contact the Senior Citizens Department at (631) 360-7616 or the Office for People with Disabilities at (631) 360-7642

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