Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
People gather on the buckled boardwalk of the Rockaway Park neighborhood of the borough of Queens, New York, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
As days without power drag on, Sandy victims simmer with frustration
First Published Nov 11 2012 08:44 pm • Last Updated Nov 11 2012 08:44 pm

New York • New Yorkers railed Sunday against a utility that has lagged behind others in restoring power two weeks after the superstorm that socked the region, criticizing its slow pace as well as a dearth of information.

About 120,000 customers in New York and New Jersey remained without power Sunday, including tens of thousands of homes and businesses that were too damaged to connect to power even if it was running in their neighborhood. More than 8 million lost power during the storm, and some during a later nor’easter.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Separately, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano visited with disaster-relief workers Sunday in Staten Island’s Midland Beach neighborhood, which is still devastated two weeks after Sandy hit.

The lack of power restoration for a relative few in the densely populated region at the heart of the storm reinforced Sandy’s fractured effect on the area: tragic and vicious to some, merely a nuisance to others.

Perhaps none of the utilities have drawn criticism as widespread, or as harsh, as the Long Island Power Authority. Nearly 50,000 of the homes and businesses it serves were still without power Sunday evening, and 55,000 more couldn’t safely connect even though their local grids were back online because their wiring and other equipment had been flooded. It would need to be repaired or inspected before those homes could regain power, LIPA said.

"We certainly understand the frustration that’s out there," LIPA’s chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, said in a conference call late Sunday. But, he said, the storm had been worse than expected, no utility had as many workers in place beforehand as it would have liked, and the power was coming back rapidly "compared to the damage that’s been incurred."

Customers told of calling LIPA multiple times a day for updates and getting no answer, or contradictory advice.

"I was so disgusted the other night," said Carrie Baram of Baldwin Harbor, who said she calls the utility three times a day. "I was up till midnight, but nobody bothered to answer the telephone."

Baram, 56, said she and her husband, Bob, go to the mall to charge their cellphones, and Bob, a sales manager, goes there to work. They trekked to her parents’ house to shower. At night, they huddle under a pile of blankets and listen to the sound of fire engines, which Baram assumes are blaring because people have been accidentally setting blazes with their generators.

"It’s dark," said an exasperated Baram, "it’s frightening, and it’s freezing."


story continues below
story continues below

LIPA has said it knows that customers aren’t getting the information they need, partly because of an outdated information technology system that it is updating. Sunday, executives said they were working on setting up information centers near the most heavily damaged areas. The company also said it had deployed 6,400 linemen to work on restoring power, compared to 200 on a normal day.

"’They’re working on it, they’re working on it’ — that would be their common response," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Sunday, describing LIPA’s interaction with his office.

He said LIPA had failed to answer even simple questions from its customers and that Sandy’s magnitude wasn’t an excuse.

"How could a utility of that size, with the financial support that it receives, fail to communicate with its residents?" he said. "Its basic logistics seem to have failed."

Mangano and other lawmakers have called for the federal government to step in and assist with restoring power to Long Island, saying LIPA could not be trusted to get the job done.

On Sunday, LIPA said it had restored power to 95 percent of homes and businesses where it was safe to receive power and that that figure would be 99 percent by the end of Tuesday. It didn’t give an estimate for the remaining customers.

"When we’re done, we will look at any improvements we need to make in the process," Hervey said. "My appeal to those customers is once the crews arrive, stand back and let them get their work done."

Phillip Jones, 43, a parole officer in Uniondale, said he had called LIPA about 10 times a day before his power was turned on Saturday and usually just got a busy signal. A few times he got a recording saying the company was aware of the problems and would call if it needed to speak to him.

"Which was kind of strange," Jones said, "because most of the phones were not working that well."

Jones also criticized LIPA’s failure to find a way to tell people how long to expect to be without electricity.

"If they had said the lights won’t be on until two weeks from now, I could have made a two-week plan," he said. Instead, he and his wife and two children had been sleeping in one bed to try to stay warm, and he missed two weeks of work. "All you could do was hope that today would be the day."

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.