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Two Weeks After Sandy, Tens Of Thousands Still Without Power On L.I.

Utility Lifts Rules To Speed Up Restoration, But Many Still Skeptical It Will Work
A worker repairs electrical lines as Long Islanders continue their clean up efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy on November 9, 2012 in Plainview, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A worker repairs electrical lines as Long Islanders continue their clean up efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy on November 9, 2012 in Plainview, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Superstorm Sandy

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Tens of thousands of people are still in the dark on Long Island two weeks after Superstorm Sandy slammed the region.

The Long Island Power Authority reported about 67,000 outages Monday, adding that a large number of those outages — 46,000 — are unable to safely receive power without customer repairs.

The utility said 99 percent of its one million outages would be restored by Tuesday night. The remaining 1 percent, some 10,000  homes, will take a few more days, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

EXTRA: Latest Power Outage Information

Then there are the 46,000 homes — mostly in the Rockaways and Nassau County — that were flooded. As outages enter their third week, LIPA said it has dropped its policy that forces customers to get an inspection before their power is restored.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

The utility’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey said customers no longer need to wait for an official utility assessor. Instead, an electrician can start the work by certifying repairs and plugging in meters to speed up restoration.

“That should help those homes get power more quickly and one less step for the homeowners,” said Hervey.

But some residents say that’s not enough.

“We sleep with insulated underwear, sweatpants, sweatshirts and three quilt covers,” said Marilyn Cashdan from Baldwin Harbor. “No one cares about us.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Monday afternoon news conference that LIPA will be held accountable for its response to Sandy.

“As the head overseer, when we get stabilized, I’m going to do a thorough review slash investigation and a very serious one,” Gov. Cuomo told reporters including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

The governor was also critical of Con Edison’s request for a rate increase.

“I think they utility should be talking about rebating to the rate-payer. I didn’t have power for two weeks,” Cuomo said.

Gov. Cuomo said overall, 99 percent of New Yorkers have had their power restored. For the remaining one percent in the badly flooded out areas, Gov. Cuomo said only time will tell.

LIPA officials said it is too soon to know whether a rate increase could be coming for its customers. Meantime, Hervey responded to the harsh criticism leveled by Cuomo.

“We’re a state agency and the governor has expectations and expects agencies to perform. Thet’s what we would all expect from our governor, so we certainly respect his view on it and we will be responsive to where he would like to see us go,” Hervey told WCBS 880.

Residents held rallies all weekend despite the news that LIPA lifted its controversial rules to speed up restoration. Many doubt cutting the red tape will make a difference.

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports

“We had our green ticket inspection on the front door of our home. They promised they would turn on the power as soon as we did that,” said Baldwin Harbor resident Tyler Baram. “Nothing has happened still. People need power. It’s sad.”

Judy Blanco is being told that it could be two more weeks before power returns to her condo in Island Park.

“I cry every morning,” Blanco told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “I feel like I live in a middle to upper class community that is being completely ignored.”

The utility has been assailed for leaving Long Islanders in the cold and dark for two weeks without time estimates or clear instructions for flooded homes.

Elected officials have called for a federal takeover of the restoration and the public has called for heads to roll.

“This type of communication, this type of cooperation, really should’ve been a lot earlier here,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said. “It’s really resulted in anger and outrage.”

“This is an absolute disgrace,” Long Island Rep. Peter King told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “This really has reached crisis proportions of a public health dimension in Nassau County, in Suffolk County and on the south shore.”

On Monday, though LIPA denied it has a supply shortage or that it was unprepared.

“We never rest on our performance, we always want to strive to improve,” said John Bruckner, president of National Grid Transmission and Distribution Services on Long Island. “We’ll continue to incorporate lessons learned as we go forward.”

With each passing day without power desperation is growing.

Margarite Hunt told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang that she sleeps with rifles and knives at night, fearful looters will break into her Levittown home.

“In the dark they’re robbing around the corner and I cannot leave my house,” Hunt said. “We’re in the dark over here. We have kids, I have to protect my family.”

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports

“I’m freezing to death. It’s just impossible to live,” Diane Micelli told Jiang.

“They need to help us, we can’t live like this,” one resident told Jiang. “Please come and help us. Please.”

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