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LIPA Customers Frustrated By Lack Of Information Amid Sandy-Related Outages

Customers Say They Can't Find Information Anywhere In Aftermath Of Storm
(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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Superstorm Sandy

SOUTH BELLMORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Long Islanders say they aren’t getting any answers from LIPA. There are still 190,000 outages there and on Tuesday, there was a new wrinkle that was angering homeowners.

“The politicians don’t have any information. There’s no information on the websites. There is just no information,” one Long Islander told CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff.

“You can’t get a straight answer from anyone and if you do, it’s not accurate anyway,” another resident added.

Those were feelings that echoed across Long Island’s South Shore, where folks were learning by word of mouth they have no hope of getting power to homes in flooded neighborhoods until inspectors sign off on every home’s circuit breaker panel.

That was news to many in the tens of thousands of homes affected.

“There’s been no communication directly from LIPA, the town or county,” Brett Klein, of South Bellmore, said.
Turning power on in a house that has had an electrical panel submerged in saltwater could cause fire or electrocution.

So LIPA is requiring every home south of Merrick Road and Montauk Highway from Long Beach to Moriches to receive an electrical approval certificate. Five hundred inspectors will be going door to door — a process that could take 10 days.

“We know these are trying times,” said Richard Bivone, of the Empire Association of Electrical Inspectors. “We are going to be there. We are going to get to every house as needed.”

CBS 2 has learned inspectors will come to you and that you don’t have to call. If you’re not home, a phone number will be left. Also, inspections are free of cost and if a house fails, repairs must be made by a licensed electrical contractor before a certificate will be issued.

It is information residents said they can’t find anywhere. LIPA’s website makes mention of the flooded South Shore taking longer to restore power, but offered no specifics.

“The houses are getting very cold, everybody’s got children, people with babies…and the communication is so poor we feel helpless,” said Michael Tulchiner, of South Bellmore.

“Residents have a right to know if they’re not going to get their electricity in 10, 20, 30 days. They need that information so they can make their decision now and abandon the struggle that they’re in,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said.

You can bypass the inspection if you’re lucky enough to be able to reach and hire a private electrician and then turn in the certificate to LIPA directly. Furious homeowners said had they known, they could done it eight days ago.

LIPA, meanwhile, continued to tell customers on its website that 90 percent of the original outages would be restored by Wednesday night.

That doesn’t include the flooded South Shore or new outages caused by Wednesday’s expected Nor’easter.

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