News

National Grid On Power Restoration: Under Circumstances, We’ve Performed ‘Extremely Well’

Angry Customers Stage Protest At LIPA News Conference In Oceanside
(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

Superstorm Sandy

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was still no light Friday night for hundreds of thousands of Long Island homes.

About 150,000 frustrated Long Island Power Authority customers said the company was giving them the run-around and they want to know why.

They’re running the response to the Long Island power outages, but even though so many customers are still out after 11 days, representatives from National Grid said, under the circumstances, they are doing OK.

“Under the conditions, I think we’ve performed extremely well,” said Tom King of National Grid.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria Reports

Governor Andrew Cuomo has blasted the work by LIPA. CBS 2’s Dick Brennan asked for a response to some of the governor’s own choice words.

“We are progressing very well based on the unprecedented damage from the storm. As far as the system being obsolete, the owner of the system [LIPA] would be in a better situation to answer that question,” said John Bruckner of the National Grid.

But the owner of the system, LIPA, did not show for the news conference. As for when the lights would be back on, authorities said the non-flooded homes should be back by Tuesday, but they could not say when the rest would be back.

Earlier, outrage with LIPA reached a boiling point.

What started as a news conference by the utility to inform the public on its progress in the restoration effort turned into an angry protest by frustrated customers.

More than 500 residents of Oceanside chanted “LIPA sucks” and said the utility has failed to provide information, give estimates as to when power will be restored, and dispatch workers to the hardest-hit communities.

1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels reports

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy told the crowd that their own calls to the utility have gone unanswered and want LIPA ultimately replaced, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

“One thing I think that’s worse than an unanswered question is an unanswered phone call from an indifferent utility and that’s exactly what’s been going on with LIPA for the last two weeks,” Murray, who is calling for an investigation, told WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs. “It’s outrageous.”

Congressmen Steve Israel and Peter King, along with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, have been calling on the federal government to take over LIPA’s storm recovery effort.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports 

“The military has a logistical competence at this,” Israel said. “When the lights went off in Baghdad it was the Army Corps of Engineers that went into Baghdad and Kabul to turn the lights back on.”

“The federal government must shake up and wake up LIPA to get the power turned on,” Mangano said.

Oceanside residents said LIPA has abandoned them and others across Long Island who remain without power 11 days after Superstorm Sandy struck.

“We lost our house, my car, my job, we lost everything,” one woman said. “We can’t go back in our home because our electric is completely destroyed.”

“Where is LIPA for the elderly, the children, everyone? I had my home impacted, my mother and we just want help,” another woman said.

Plainview resident Al Gerstein told 1010 WINS his housing development lost power at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29 and has been in the dark ever since.

“We have called every elected official in the area. We filed a formal complaint with the public service commission. No one is getting back to us,” Gerstein said. “LIPA has a recording on with no information concerning our area. We have not gotten one answer. It’s been a disaster.”

“We are neglected. The taxes are extremely high in that area and we deserve better,” Gerstein added.

LIPA reported more than 173,000 outages, with the majority in flooded areas, Friday morning.

Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey said the utility was aiming to have power restored by the middle of next week.

“The outages that we have leftover from the nor’easter plus the outages from Sandy piled up on us and really we lost about two days of progress in our restoration,” Hervey said.

The nor’easter caused more than 120,000 outages, but power was quickly restored to about half of those customers, Hervey said.

“It was fairly devastating,” Hervey said. “We have about 60,000 customers that were new outages that had never gone out in Sandy and then the nor’easter brought heavy wet snow that brought trees down and brought those lines down.”

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.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports

The utility said it is strengthening its efforts in restoring power to thousands impacted by Sandy and the nor’easter after facing criticism from state officials and frustrated customers.

LIPA said it has more than 14,000 workers dedicated to the restoration effort, including more than 8,200 field crews from across the country and Canada. Another 1,200 linemen were expected to join the effort Friday.

Homeowners in the flood zone 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 Jennifer McLogan reported.

The utility said it is “continuing to advance” inspections in flooded areas of Long Island and Queens.

Crews were also working on restoring power to sewage treatment facilities, water pumping stations, nursing homes, 40 school districts and three universities.

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