News

Angry LIPA Customers Say They Can’t Get Clear Answers About Power Restoration

Angry Residents Quckly Losing Faith In Utility; Governor Calls Operation Archaic
Downed trees in Woodbury, Long Island as a result of Sandy (credit: Sophia Hall / WCBS 880)

Downed trees in Woodbury, Long Island as a result of Sandy (file/credit: Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

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Superstorm Sandy

UPDATED November 9, 2012 2:26 a.m.

LAUREL HOLLOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – For those on Long Island without power since Sandy struck, the frustrations with the Long Island Power Authority continue.

“We’re going to assess this new damage while we still restore power and then we’re going to come up with a detailed level of restorations dates for our customers, hopefully over the next couple of days,” LIPA’s Mark Gross told WCBS 880 reporter Sophia Hall on Thursday.

Thursday night, frustrated customers finally got an answer of when power would be restored.

“We’re aiming for the middle of next week,” LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey told WCBS 880’s Hall.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall Reports

Hervey said he expects the utility would be putting out more information in the coming days as to when crews would be wrapping up work in specific towns.

Earlier, Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth lives in Great Neck, where many still don’t have power and have complained of poor communications with LIPA.

“Where are the boots on the ground? We keep hearing that there’s added crew, there are so many people working. We’re not seeing them,” she said.

She said it’s impossible to know when anyone will get their lights back.

“They can’t tell us if we’ll have power in two days, in three days, in a week, in two weeks,” she said.

Residents said they are at the end of their ropes.

“I’m very frustrated. We have no electricity. I haven’t seen one LIPA truck, no help from everyone. I can’t believe this is America. This is the richest country in the world and we help everybody. Where is everybody to help us?” Esther Ackerman of Oceanside told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan.

“I don’t know why they aren’t being airlifted into our area to help the citizens. Something has to be done. We have elderly people on this block,” said Lucy Capicchioni of New Hyde Park.

Inside houses with no hot water, electricity, or gas, parents were at their wits end, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported. Children were bored and pent up. Kristin Morris’ kids were getting a lesson on LIPA.

“But they’ll demand their bill. What are they going to do? Are they going to compensate us for this amount of time we’ve not had power?” said Morris, of Garden City.

“We are going from one house with no power to another house with no power, but at least they have a generator. It’s better than nothing,” said Olivia Bono of Island Park.

“How can they do this to us? How can they leave us here?” added Nicole Rivara of Island Park.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

Some residents barely got the chance to enjoy having power back after Sandy when the nor’easter struck, leaving them in the dark yet again.

“We had it from Sunday afternoon to last night,” one Albertson resident said. “It’s the weather, there’s nothing they can do about it, except be a little quicker. They’re doing the best they can I suppose.”

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano got an unexpected earful from frustrated homeowners when he showed up at the Merrick Library, which was being used as a warming center, on Thursday.

“Every employee that we have is working every shift, we’re not letting anyone go home,” Mangano said, trying to reassure the crowd.

But that did little to comfort homeowners who have been without heat and electricity for more than a week.

“I haven’t seen anybody. We need answers, when are getting our power back on?” one woman demanded.

Homeowner Richard Feldman criticized Mangano, saying he doesn’t have an emergency plan and called the recovery effort a failure.

“There are tens of thousands of people out there, like me, with no home,” Feldman said. “Ed Mangano is a politician and he’s incompetent.”

Tempers quickly flared when Mangano tried to explain that LIPA is controlled by the state, not the county.

“So where is the state representative that is demanding LIPA give some answers to people? Where have they been for 11 days?” one woman asked.

“I share your frustration,” Mangano said, to which the woman quickly replied, “You have power in your house, you don’t share my frustration.”

Mangano’s house does have power, 1010 WINS Carol D’Auria reported. He lives inland where Sandy’s damage was minimal.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

LIPA has more than 262,000 outages.

Gross said about 123,000 had lost power in Wednesday’s nor’easter, but tens of thousands have already been restored. The latest outage figures include both Sandy and nor’easter outages.

Gross also said 60,000 customers from the hardest-hit areas are once again being included on the utility’s outage maps.

Homeowners in Long Island’s flood zone – all 40,000 from the Moriches to the Rockaways — were told by LIPA they need an electrician to certify it is safe to turn the power back on — even those who suffered no water damage, CBS 2’s McLogan reported.

“I was told now that if you don’t get that certificate that LIPA’s going to come around and take your meter off your house, and then you’ll have to pay a licensed electrician to come back and give you a new meter,” Oceanside homeowner Renato Scaglione said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo claimed LIPA is archaic and lacked basic flood planning, adding the utility is in need of immediate overhaul.

“We paid them and we gave them a franchise because they represented themselves as experts in doing this and they failed — and they should be held accountable for their failure,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said the region will need a long-term recovery plan, but many residents said they only worry about their next meal, or where they will be staying on a nightly basis, CBS 2’s Brennan reported.

Many went to the Island Park FEMA Center Thursday night for food and supplies, but Elyse Schwartz of Oceanside said she and her two kids needed a place to stay.

“It’s a a nightmare, and I’m just living each minute. We don’t know what’s gonna happen the next minute,” Schwartz said.

What do you have to say about LIPA’s communication efforts? Sound off below.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)