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Darkness lingers longer for SE Queens residents

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When the massive power outage swept through the Northeast last Thursday afternoon, Jamaica resident Sandra Green climbed down 14 flights of stairs in the Midtown Manhattan building where she takes classes in nursing administration to begin her journey home, she said.

Seven hours later, at about 11 p.m., Green finished her long walk over the Queensborough Bridge and through the borough to her Jamaica home, where she finally took off her three-inch high-heeled shoes.

"I don't know how I made it," she said. "It's a good thing I've got good, strong legs. It was a bad experience. I don't want to go through that again."

But Friday afternoon, 24 hours after the lights first blinked out, Green and the rest of southeast Queens were still waiting for the power to return, and traveling options were restricted to cars and buses. Green was one of about 20 people waiting for the N4 bus to Long Island at the Archer Avenue and Parsons Boulevard stop, a usually bustling transportation hub with city subway lines and LIRR trains, was limited that day to the dozen bus lines.

Power was restored to southeast Queens about 5:20 p.m. Friday, city officials said.

As Green made her way home to Jamaica, City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) was trying to drive into Queens from a Midtown Manhattan meeting, he said. Weprin opened his car to weary walkers and helped about eight people with their journeys, he said.

"I ran a shuttle service from Manhattan," the councilman joked Friday evening. "I picked up four passengers before the bridge who were going to Astoria who wanted a ride over the bridge. I dropped them off and picked up three more people, including a 70-year-old woman who looked like she was going to drop."

Once people finally arrived home, many like Mikael Asfaw of Jamaica just lit candles and sat tight, he said.

"I stayed home last night," Asfaw said Friday. "I'm just going to stay in the shade, drink more water, more liquids, to stay cool."

On Friday, when southeast Queens was still without power, residents began to look for food and gas.

"All my food in my refrigerator is going bad," Green said.

Most stores, including those on Jamaica Avenue, were closed, and stores carrying perishable foods had to get rid of all their meat, dairy and frozen foods, said one worker at the Pathmark Supermarket in Springfield Gardens.

"We're just cleaning up the meat and the fish," the worker said Friday in the closed grocery store. "We had to throw all that out."

The Pathmark supermarket, at Springfield and Merrick boulevards, had a small fire on its roof about 9:30 p.m. last Thursday, but there was no damage to the store, a Pathmark manager said.

About the same time, a double-paned window was broken at the Blockbuster Video store in the same shopping center, said Blake Lugash, a spokesman for the company.

"Some people threw something through a side window to get in, but before they were able to steal anything they were apprehended by police," Lugash said.

Aside from those incidents, southeast Queens remained calm and quiet throughout the blackout, a police officer from the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica.

"Everyone's staying pretty calm," he said.

One woman reportedly went into labor aboard a Long Island Rail Road train that stopped above 160th Street in Jamaica, according to the Breaking News Network, but additional details were unavailable.

The heat also affected Debra Browne's 17-month-old daughter, Browne said. The girl, who lives in Laurelton with her mother, had respiratory problems and had to be taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital, Browne said.

"Last night she had trouble breathing," she said Friday. "I was out of my mind. She could not breathe."

By Friday the girl was breathing easier, and Browne was looking ahead to that evening, she said.

"We're just getting Chinese food, and maybe we'll light the grill later, but that won't help because there's no meat," Browne said. "Everything went bad."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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