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Russell: Communication With LIPA During Storm Improved From Last Year

But some aspects of coordinated storm management with the power authority and the town could be better, says Southold Town Supervisor.

With better communications systems in place but some areas of Southold Town still without power nearly 10 days after Hurricane Sandy hit, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said during a board work session on Tuesday that the Long Island Power Authority still has some things to improve with coordinated storm management.

Russell praised LIPA for providing the town a responsive point person he could regularly communicate with during Sandy — something he did not have during Tropical Storm Irene.

“They have been better at communication,” he said. “I at least had a point person to go to — last year they had one person for the whole island who wouldn’t answer his phone. This year they have been good about letting us know where they are.”

Pre-storm logistics, however, were lacking on the part of LIPA, Russell said.

“They’re down to fixing very localized damage, putting up telephone poles, but if they had a better plan before the storm — having crews, poles, equipment in place where they will know they need them — this could have been better. Nine to 10 days without power is a long time.”

Russell praised Suffolk County’s Emergency Management team for their great communication with the town throughout Hurricane Sandy and thanked members of local fire departments for their help in determining areas that needed to be evacuated and for going door-to-door to encourage residents to leave before flood waters hit.

“You don’t want to cry wolf, but I think in many instances it was the right call to evacuate,” Russell said. “We did have a few deep water rescues throughout town and some electrical fires, so it was without a doubt a busy storm.”

Russell said that the town along with police and fire departments are working on creating a digital map of flood-prone and other dangerous areas in town during a major storm to refer people to the next time evacuation is required. He also suggested opening fewer shelters than were available during Sandy for easier management and better chance at having centralized generators for power.

What are you thoughts on how the town, LIPA handled Hurricane Sandy? Tell us in the comment boxes below.

thomas prokop November 08, 2012 at 11:12 AM
LIPA certainly wasn't responsive or timely in any way but neither was the town of Southold or Russell. He never gave any updates or information to the people. Office closed and no communication. The supervisor of South Hampton on the other hand gave constant updates, recommendations and information on local radio. Russell nor any other official was anywhere to be found.
Tom November 08, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Russell was in the town's Emergency Operations Center and on the road, coordinating with the PD, highway and the shelters that were opened and staffed to handle the influx of people seeking to avoid the storm or fleeing their homes.
joe insider November 08, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Are you kidding me? I heard Russell so much on news 12 and WLNG that I got tired of hearing from him. He was on like all of the other elected officials giving us info before, during and after the storm.
Erin Schultz November 08, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Hi thomas - I was in communication with Scott and others in emergency management throughout the storm, posting updates as fast as I could, as were News 12 and WLNG. If you can't find the info you're looking for elsewhere, please use Patch on your laptop or smartphone during the next storm - that's why we're here - thanks for reading! -- Erin
scott russell November 08, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I am sorry Mr. Prokop I tried to communicate as best I could. For the first 60 hours or so I was either at the emergency operations center, the field or at shelters. I contacted the media as often as I could. While at the EMO we had generator back up so I could call in to news 12 and local stations. When on the road or at shelters my only communication was cell phone which stopped working shortly after the power went down at the cell tower. I did have to take time away from my duties to relocate my wife and young children because our home was in a mandatory evacuation zone. On the issue of LIPA, their communication was more frequent then during Irene, but they had very little of anything meaningful to tell us. Always the same "help is on the way"...for days we heard that. Again, sorry for letting you down. Scott

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