Essay | For Many, Life in the Dark on Long Island

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When the power first went out last Monday in parts of my neighborhood, Floral Park, my parents and I hoped it’d be back on in a matter of hours. But the wait turned into days, and cold nights. So I had to spend much of the day at my aunt’s, working, before coming home to a cold house in the evening.

We lit lots of candles, and used a small kerosene heater for warmth.

Luckily, I had friends who could offer some space. And then, our power came back on Tuesday night. But other residents in my community, and nearby areas, are still in the dark. My father and I drove around Wednesday to see where the power’s still out, and how people are doing without the light, or the heat.

I met Ron Vincenzi, from neighboring Franklin Square, at a local supermarket.

“Terrible,” he said, when I asked him how life’s been. “I’ve been running to Queens sleeping by my 94-year-old aunt’s house to stay warm at night. It’s atrocious….I threw out tons of food, and it’s horrendous, it really is horrendous.”

Vincenzi has been driving back and forth between Woodhaven, Queens and Franklin Square to check on his house each day. He said he’s also concerned about getting gas, and is hopeful the lights will be back on soon.

Next, we drove another town over, to Mineola, where I met Ed Karbiner, from New Hyde Park, at a bakery with his wife. He says he’s living with uncertainty, not knowing when his power will come back. He told me his block suffered heavy damage during the storm, and said he hasn’t received an estimate as to when his power will be restored.

“It’s a mess because the poles all went down, and we had a big tree that came down at the end of the block and it pulled down with it, you know, about three or four individual poles,” he said. “And the transformer and the pole is just laying in our backyard.”

In the meantime, he said he’s surviving with the help of a generator. He also stayed upstate, with his son who had power, over the weekend.

Karbiner said it could have been worse, and that was a sentiment echoed by a couple of Long Islanders I spoke with. Richard Scrima, from Lynbrook, was working on his laptop at the bakery. He told me he feels lucky.

“We’ve been in the house since 1999, the longest we have been without power was two hours. So now, ten days is significant, so it certainly makes you appreciate when you have power, when you’re able to go into your refrigerator and have food, turn on your TV, and just the general conveniences of we’ve all become used to.”

I feel lucky, too. Many times this week, my father’s said we’re suffering minor inconveniences, while others on our little island have lost so much. I certainly agree; compared to the damage Sandy’s wrought elsewhere, several days in the dark isn’t so bad at all.