Smithtown officials are warning residents to be prepared for the long haul, as they expect cleanup from Hurricane Sandy to take weeks.
John Valentine, director of Smithtown's Emergency Management Unit, said based on early estimates Hurricane Sandy did almost double the damage of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
"There is no magic. This is going to be a long, protracted situation," Valentine said.
The hardest hit areas in the Town of Smithtown are the Nissequogue River corridor, and St. James sweeping down into Nesconset, according to Valentine. There are scattered pockets of hard hit neighborhoods, such as Sequoia Drive in Hauppauge. In addition, there are several buildings that have severe roof damage in the Hauppauge Industrial Park.
"Overall, the town was severely impacted by the storm," the emergency director said.
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Town Hall and other town facilities are among the 850,000 Long Island Power Authority customers still without power on Wednesday evening, being run on generators.
Vecchio said there was a 100 percent difference between Irene and Hurricane Sandy.
"There are a lot more trees that went down and a lot more roads are closed. Most people don’t have cell phone service or electricity. People are going to need help when its gets cold," the supervisor said.
While Vecchio could not provide an exact number, he said every member of the town's Highway Department, Parks Department and Public Safety department has been called into work to get cleanup underway.
Valentino laid out the town's goals in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
"When you talk about storms, everyone speaks about electricity. We have the obligation of providing services to residents, like police and fire," he said.
To that point, Smithtown's number one priority is ensuring local residents' well-being, their safety and health. Second, their goal is make sure services, like fire and police, can get to residents by clearing the roadways of fallen trees and debris. Valentine said all Town of Smithtown roadways were accessible by Wednesday afternoon.
"When they [residents] say their street is blocked, it’s a stretch at this point. Their street might be blocked in a way that is inconvenient for them.... But no one now is in a situation where they can't get out," said the emergency director.
In addition, town employees are working in partnership with LIPA crews in effort to quickly restore power - unlike Tropical Storm Irene. Valetine said "it's a night and day difference."
"At that time we had no cooperation with LIPA. Through our efforts, we’ve been able to overcome that issue. We have partnered up with LIPA to get our goals accomplished," he said.
The emergency director explains LIPA crews are degenerating downed power lines to make sure they are not live. Then town employees are able to move in and remove the fallen tree or debris that caught and snagged on the power line. LIPA crews can then fix or replace the power line quicker.
This process explains why some homes and businesses with power may lose power again, before the system is fully restored.
Residents with questions, concerns or looking to report a problem are encouraged to call the Emergency Management Unit at 631-360-7553. The line is staffed 24 hours a day.
"If they call, we will get an answer to them. It may not be an answer they like, but we will get an answer for them," Valentine said.
The Town of Smithtown has also temporarily suspended garbage pick up due to the state of the roads with downed trees and traffic signals being out. The roads will be evaluated daily for whether to resume garbage pick-up services, with hopes of getting a run in by the end of the week.