Utility pole and transformer down on Northside Road in Wading River. Courtesy photo: Carol Sclafani

PSEG-LI had major communications problems during the height of the storm yesterday, frustrating thousands of customers left without power as they tried in vain to report outages.

Texts and phone calls to the utility’s outage reporting system returned error messages and the company’s website was inaccessible throughout most of the afternoon, while Isaias pummeled Long Island with sustained 50 mph winds and near-hurricane force gusts.

Isaias left more than 420,000 PSEG-LI customers in the dark. Nearly 321,000 remain without power as of 6 this morning, including almost 3,500 customers in Riverhead Town, nearly 1,800 in Southold and more than 60,000 in Brookhaven.

Isaias was “one of the strongest to hit the service area in years,” PSEG-LI said in a press release issued late last night.

“Damage was severe, and some outages could last for an extended period,” the company warned.

The utility acknowledges its communications woes during the storm, which it said created “challenges” in getting information to its customers.

The communications failure added to the frustrations of residents coping with outages and other storm impacts.

PSEG-LI’s Facebook page was flooded with complaints. Their woes were summed up by one customer: “Been texting to report outages sunce 1:30 and reply is sorry something went wrong. Please try again or call customer service. Called and get message that it is not working,” posted Luis Portiansky.

“PSEG Long Island is reliant on Verizon for its internet and telecommunications systems,” PSEG said in the press release it issued last night. “Without reliable support from Verizon, our systems cannot perform as they should,” the company said. PSEG and LIPA have asked the State Department of Public Service for assistance, according to the press release.

Verizon could not be reached for comment.

PSEG-LI’s website, outage map and communications systems were functioning again this morning. To report an outage text OUT to PSEGLI (773454) or call 1-800-490-0075 or 631-755-6900. Outages can also be reported online here.

The company said its communications troubles yesterday did not affect its ability to dispatch emergency crews.

More than 2,000 line workers, tree trimmers and others were working 16-hour shifts around the clock and would continue to do so until all power is restored, PSEG-LI said.

A large tree downed tree at the Pulaski Street Elementary School Aug. 4.
Photo: Peter Blasl

Isaias toppled dozens of trees, downed branches and took out power lines across Riverhead and the surrounding area yesterday, knocking out power to thousands of residents and businesses in town. PSEG-LI said it estimates power will be restored to most of them by late this afternoon. Some will not see power restored until tomorrow night, according to the utility.

Riverhead highway department crews were out last night clearing roads of downed trees and branches, Riverhead Highway Superintendent George Woodson said this morning.

Some trees could not be removed from roadways because they were tangled up in power lines, requiring PSEG-LI crews to confirm lines were not energized before crews could safely work.

Trees and branches on power lines sparked multiple small fires on utility poles and some transformers across town. These, too, require PSEG crews to respond to shut down power and as of this morning, multiple locations around town still required the utility company’s attention.

River Road east of Edwards Avenue in Calverton emains closed to traffic due to wires in the roadway. Photo: Peter Blasl

Multiple roads around town are still closed due to trees and wires down. Sound Avenue is closed at Rt. 105, Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said this morning. Middle Road between Osborn Avenue and Mill Road, River Road east of Edwards Avenue, Further Lane, Long Pond Road and Northside Road are among the roads closed to traffic this morning because of trees and wires in the the roadway. A pole fire on River Road burned late into the night.

“It looks like a candle stick,” one local resident observed.

The Riverhead highway chief said crews will continue to work to clear local roads throughout the day.

More than 50 trees and numerous large branches came down in town roadways during the storm, Woodson said.

Other trees fell on private property, some onto homes.

One man in Aquebogue was injured when a large tree came down and crushed his mobile home.

Hegermiller said he knew of no other reported storm-related injuries.

In neighboring Southold Town, where a tornado warning was issued at about 2 p.m. yesterday, heavy winds toppled trees and caused power outages across the North Fork. Nearly 1,800 customers remain without power this morning, according to PSEG.

PSEG said customers without power should turn off or disconnect major appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power surge that can damage these devices. Keep one light turned on so you know when power returns.

Downed wires should always be considered “live,” the utility said. Stay at least 30 feet away from downed power lines and immediately call 911 to report downed wires.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.