When Lightning Strikes


Severe and dangerous lightning storm derails morning commute

The tristate area was walloped with a massive lightning storm early last week, which caused a lot of headaches for many in the village and surrounding communities. Last Tuesday at around 8:20 p.m. lightning struck a Long Island Rail Road substation south of the tracks near New Hyde Park at Second Avenue between South 9th Street and South 10th Street. The smoke that ensued could be seen for blocks, reaching as far as Jericho Turnpike. Several agencies responded alongside LIRR crews to safely extinguish the fire as the LIRR worked to restore service back to normal.

Local firefighters and LIRR crew members responded to the scene to distinguish the fire.

Homeowners who lived within a five-block radius were urged to keep their windows closed while firefighters tried to extinguish the fire. According to one observer at the scene, as the power station started to burn firefighters were pulled away from the front of the station for safety concerns.

New Hyde Park resident Angela Cappiello said that residents were notified of the fire and what precautions to take from Swift911, a computerized telephone calling system that is used to notify residents of an emergency situation.

“To ensure continued operations, we positioned key personnel at critical points along our system, in the case that residual effects from the powerful storm occurred,” said an LIRR spokeswoman.

Train service was operational on all branches at around 11:30 p.m. later that night. However, the effects of the lightning strike lasted until the next morning.

At around 5:50 a.m., the LIRR lost power to one of its signal huts in the surrounding New Hyde Park area, which prompted PSEG to respond. The electrical company assisted in troubleshooting and diagnosing the issue. The inspection of the signal infrastructure alongside the tracks resulted in the discovery of power surges, which caused the power loss—eliminating the ability to control switches from the New Hyde Park station east of Merillon Avenue.

LIRR crew members worked throughout Wednesday to fix the issue.

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