Hurricane Sandy has taken its toll on the residents of New York and New Jersey, but perhaps nowhere has the frustration with the slow pace of infrastructure restoration in its aftermath been felt more keenly than on Long Island’s southern shore.
Some two weeks after the superstorm struck, more than 70,000 Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) customers in New York were still without power. LIPA, the nonprofit utility that contracts with National Grid for service and maintenance of the region, has defended its restoration efforts, pointing out that it had restored power to nearly 1.1 million customers despite extremely severe storm damage, claiming that it had deployed 6,400 linemen across its service area to work on restoring power, compared to 200 on an average day.
However, of that 70,000 still without power, some 46,300 are found mainly along Long Island’s south shore and Rockaway Peninsula and these people’s homes have water damage to electrical panels and wiring. LIPA has informed homeowners that their service can’t be restored without an inspection and possibly repairs.
This concentration of the powerless led to some angry demonstrations last Saturday morning as about 300 residents took to the street to protest in front of LIPA’s office in Hicksville, New York.
The message was clear — power the people!
Commenting Monday on the saltwater-damaged houses on Long Island, Governor Andrew Cuomo had some ominous words for the weary powerless: “There are some people who are not going to get their power back because it is not a power issue any longer, it is a housing issue.”
UPDATE: LIPA’s interim CEO Mike Hervey has announced that he will resign his post at the end of the year.
Picture by dakine kane, used under a Creative Commons license.