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LIers Lose Power - Again - as Crisis Mounts

LIPA outages grow to above 260,000 customers Thursday as Nor'easter sets back restoration efforts.

Tens of thousands of additional LIPA customers lost power in Wednesday's nor'easter that further crippled Long Island in the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

LIPA officials told the Associated Press that a total of 123,000 customers lost power at some time during the most recent storm but many have been restored.

Still, more than 260,000 LIPA customers remain without power on Thursday, the day many of these residents living in darkened, frigid homes received their electrical bill in the mail. Unofficial estimates say full power won't be achieved until sometime next week.

Outraged public officials and irate citizens are demanding answers and getting few specifics. LIPA spokesman have not responded to repeated requests from Patch for specific updates.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo LIPA and other power utilities "archaic" and "unprepared" for the Sandy and the subsequent nor'easter.

"The management has failed the consumers," Cuomo said. "This is what they get paid to do. We paid them and we gave them a franchise because they represented themselves at experts at doing this," Cuomo said.

An official with the union representing LIPAs electrical workers said this storm is "the worst I've seen since (Hurricane) Gloria," and 8,000 lineman and tree cutters are working 16-hour shifts to respond to the Island-wide crisis.

Nassau County alone has 140,000 customers without power, including 71,000 in the town of Hempstead. North Hempstead has nearly 38,000 customers in the dark. In Oyster Bay, the figure is more than 32,000, LIPA's website reports. It is estimated those "customer" figures represent more than a quarter of a million people without power.

Many are now describing the extended outages as a public health crisis.

"My heart breaks for all of my neighbors," said Plainview's Rebecca Alesia, an Oyster Bay Town Board member, who described the situation now as a crisis. "My office's last communication with LIPA involved them telling my staff not to call any more unless it was a life-threatening emergency."

"It is time for a demonstration at a LIPA office-or at Cuomo's local office," said Debbie Gershow-Lindell of hard-hit Plainview-Old Bethpage, where more than 5,000 customers are now without power. That number grew by about 1,000 in the aftermath of the nor'easter. "Bring pictures of your children and grandparents so they can see who is freezing. Bring sleeping bags and refuse to leave until everything is fixed."

Nassau County Legis. Judy Jacobs, D-Woodbury, has been inundated with calls from irate constituents who can't get any answers from LIPA.

"I'm furious with them for their lack of communications with our residents," said Jacobs, who has been living in a motel since the power went out last week. "I've called their offices two and three times a day and all they can say is 'they're working on it. What makes me furious is that they are telling people one thing and giving them false hope. This is ridiculous."

Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said the town "has done and will continue to do everything in its power to make this situation better for its residents."

The town, which has involved in clean-up efforts, is continuously relaying information from residents to LIPA, he said.

LIPA originally estimated that it would take until Sunday to have full restoration to the system, not including the flood-ravaged areas of the South Shore and the Rockaways.

That assessment is no longer valid. Readers have reported LIPA customer service people are saying power won't be restored to specific neighborhoods until Monday. LIPA has not identified a new date for restoration.

Patrick Guidice, senior business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, which represents LIPA, acknowledged communication difficulties but said the utility has been hampered by the severity of the storm and now the nor'easter.

"This is an uphill battle," said Guidice, who said this storm was the worst he's ever since in a 30-year career. "These are difficult times, but we will not stop until it's done.

"We are Long Islanders, too," he said.

Robert G. Schaffrath November 09, 2012 at 12:41 PM
We got power back on Saturday evening but there was a looming issue with damaged lines that I knew was going to be a problem. There was no way to tell LIPA that they had a serious problem and sure enough, on Wednesday, the lines caught fire and the power went out again. This new outage that I am caught in now is much smaller than the previous outage so I gather we will be at the bottom of the list. Thankfully I have a generator and gasoline supplies are loosening up. Still this was a preventable problem but there was no way to convey that information to anyone. That is my biggest gripe about LIPA; LACK OF COMMUNICATION. There is no way to get any real status updates and no way to even tell them about potentially serious problems. Their response to one neighbor was to call 911. Fine except there was no fire, yet. (Sorry for the rambling. Not much sleep, the house has not warmed up to 58F yet and the coffee has not kicked in)
Karen Swett November 09, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Check snopes.com the rumors of out of state linemen being turned away by IBEW is false. Rumors do not help this situation...please check your facts before spreading them!
Alan Sternberg November 09, 2012 at 02:42 PM
As I sit displaced in a Mahwah friggin' New Jersey hotel because LIPA and Governor Cuomo have colossally failed the people of Long Island, I learned that the preposterous class trip to teach the 7th graders etiquette will STILL be held. The Syosset School District has just lost 7 full days of school because of the Hurricane. They smartly cancelled a half day they had planned for this week for Parent-Teacher conferences so the kids could at least begin to make up the lost classroom time. But Her Majesty, Carole Hankin is still going full steam ahead with her idiotic class trip to a country club to teach the kids etiquette. ETIQUETTE!!! There are hunrdeds of thousands of families who've lost everything; who remain without power-victims a 2nd time from the abuse of neglected delivered by LIPA, by Gov Cuomo, and every other elected official in this area. Kids are sleeping in freezing temperatures. Elderly are without power and without access to basic services. But Carole Hankin is insisting on continuing her nonsensical Etiquette class trip. In the midst of an epic meltdown of our most basic necessities. Is she kidding? How can this be? Take the kids instead to Senior Citizens home-have them go door to door and have the kids help the elderly. How about that??
Faye Wolfson November 09, 2012 at 07:44 PM
We continue to hear stories from out of state workers who are telling us that they get no direction from LIPA. One worker actually told a friend that if they knew a street that needed work to tell them and they will go there because LIPA isn't telling them anything. Unbelievable. The LIPA management needs to be fired and someone with a brain and some management skills needs to be brought in to help. It's not the workers out on the site that are at fault - they are Long Islanders too. It's the management that needs to change.
North Bellmore Public Library November 09, 2012 at 09:46 PM
If a LIPA worker is reading this-we do not have power on Lafayette Place in Sea Cliff!!!!!

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