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Hurricane Sandy NY: Power, Diversions & More

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PHOTO: "Sandy" refugees at Middle Country Public Library
PHOTO: "Sandy" refugees at Middle Country Public Library
 By Mike CliffordContact
November 2, 2012

NEW YORK – Superstorm Sandy left an estimated 5 million people on the East Coast without power and today (Friday) some New Yorkers are getting back on their feet with the help of a public resource that's just down the street – their local library.

Sandra Feinberg, director of the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, N.Y, says about 40 percent of the families in the area are still without power. As was the case with Hurricane Irene, Feinberg says many local people are flocking to the library to get back to work and back in touch.

"To actually access the Internet, because so many people are without access; and they need to do their banking, and they need to do their work - and a lot of them are working at home, they can't get into the city, they can't take trains."

Feinberg says it wasn't all about just access to power and the Internet, because many library patrons are also doing a lot of reading. She says it's too early for exact numbers, but she thinks library patrons downloaded a record number of e-books to keep them company during Sandy.

The second biggest relief function Feinberg says libraries are performing post-Sandy, is boredom relief for hundreds of thousands of children on Long Island.

"If you're a parent at home with children for two and three days and you have no power at home; they come in and they're just thrilled, because we have a lot of activities."

Feinberg says it is hard to put into words how grateful people were, just to be able to watch a movie at the library, right after the storm.

"When you just have no food and the lights aren't working, it's very disconcerting; and it's wonderful to be able to give people a place to come that's warm, comfortable, good staff – I think they feel like it's just like a piece of home away from home, or something."

The Selden branch of the library is expected to reopen on Saturday.

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