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Hempstead Town Supervisor: LIPA Has Failed Those With Special Needs

LIPA crew at Richmond Avenue in Amityville on Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

LIPA crew at Richmond Avenue in Amityville on Nov. 2, 2012 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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Superstorm Sandy

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Hempstead town supervisor on Saturday accused the Long Island Power Authority of ignoring those with special needs.

“LIPA, are you listening? You haven’t been for 13 days. These people with special needs are literally going to die if you don’t turn the power on,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. “LIPA, you have to start listening to us. There’s too much human suffering and misery out there, and there are people whose lives literally depend on electricity.”

Murray specifically pointed to a Levittown family whose son has physical challenges and special needs that require a constant reliable source of energy. But like many others who have certain needs to stay alive, the boy remained without electricity Saturday, Murray said.

1010 WINS Reporter Gene Michaels reports…

“Sadly enough, with the family today, LIPA has told them, truly, on a couple occasions, that electricity was going to be restored to their home,” Murray said. “And yet today, day 13, they are still without power, and their son literally needs a reliable source of energy to live.”

Murray said if the needs of the most vulnerable residents of Long Island do not move LIPA to take action, she does not know what will.

“We have people throughout the town of Hempstead who have these kind of issues – either our most vulnerable senior citizens who have frail health, or our residents who have life-threatening illnesses who need constant care,” she said. “But LIPA is not hearing them. They are not hearing the cries and the misery that is out there, and they are continuing to do an incompetent job.”

Anger at LIPA has boiled over for many Long Island residents. On Saturday morning, hundreds of people gathered to protest in front of LIPA and National Grid headquarters in Hicksville, with one man going so far as to call for criminal charges against the power company.

On Friday, officials from National Grid defended their performance, even though their partners from LIPA did not show up to a news conference Friday.

“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.

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.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for investigation of the region’s utilities, criticizing them as unprepared and badly managed. On Friday, two congressmen from Long Island called for the federal government to help LIPA restore electricity.

“It’s a totally disorganized effort, and LIPA unfortunately seems to have lost control of the situation and that’s why you see so many people becoming so angry,” Rep. Peter King said Saturday.

In New York City and neighboring suburban Westchester County, utility Con Edison said it has restored electricity to 98 percent of homes and businesses. About 20,000 of the utility’s customers remained powerless, down from a peak of more than 1 million.

In New Jersey, more than 100,000 customers were without power Saturday, most along the coast, utilities said. That was down from 2.7 million at the height of the storm. Most were expected to have power by the end of the weekend.

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(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.)