The postmortems of how PSEG handled the effect of Tropical Storm Isaias on Long Island had it doing a poor job of clearing wires and restoring power.
But PSEG managed Shelter Island’s emergency well, as it has over the past several years when storms struck. Power was restored to almost all Island customers who had lost it on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 4, when high winds blowing 30 to 35 mph and gusting as high as 60 mph knocked down trees, which carried power lines with them to the ground.
At one point PSEG reported that 771 customers had lost power on the Island, but Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read, who is the emergency manager coordinator of the town, disputed that figure. It was just one instance where the power company had a communication failure, not just here, but all over Long Island.
Chief Red said the communication breakdown by PSEG for the Island was mostly in the pre-storm hours. But once the emergency event was underway, and during its aftermath, from Aug. 4 to Friday, Aug. 7, PSEG and the town were on the same page.
“Compared to other communities, PSEG did a great job on Shelter Island,” the chief said. He gave one example of the IGA losing power, but having it restored in about an hour.
PSEG had deployed emergency clean-up crews to the Island on Tuesday, well before the storm hit around 2 p.m., and Chief Read and his emergency mnagement team coordinated with them.
“We made quick decisions, like assigning our officers to the PSEG crews and assisting them with high priority issues,” he said.
It was a busy afternoon for first responders. There were well over 200 calls to the town’s emergency Operations center, the chief said, regarding downed trees and wires, power outages and fires. The Shelter Island Fire Department responded to five emergencies — a transformer, a generator, smoke in a basement, a brush fire and live wires in the road.
Thankfully, “There were no medical emergencies during the storm,” Chief Read said.
But, as efficient and positive as it was on Shelter Island — even with many Islanders inconvenienced — it was a different story for many parts of Long Island.
In all, in the immediate aftermath of the storm, PSEG reported more than 420,000 residences and businesses went dark across Long Island, and Isaias brought down 3,000 trees.
The Suffolk Times reported that on Monday, Aug. 10, nearly a week after the storm left the area, “There are currently about 800 outages across Southold and Riverhead towns, with the final repairs estimated to be completed by 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to the outage map. No local outages are estimated to be repaired by tonight.”
Just across the water, however, it was a different story. Chief Read said that, on Shelter Island, “Broadly speaking, PSEG had a great response.”