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LIPA Trustees Propose Ways To Improve Communication With Customers

Sign in front of a home in Malverne, Long Island. (credit: Samantha Mevorach)

Sign in front of a home in Malverne, Long Island. (credit: Samantha Mevorach)

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Superstorm Sandy

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The discussion at the monthly Long Island Power Authority trustees meeting focused on ways to improve communication with customers during a major storm like superstorm Sandy.

Following Sandy, many angry residents descended upon the Hicksville headquarters of LIPA to protest the utility’s response to the storm.

Despite the crowds outside the secure building, residents could not get answers as to when their power would be restored.

Trustee Neal Lewis said he believes LIPA did a good job getting the lights back on to customers as quickly as possible, considering Sandy’s impact. But he added that he thinks LIPA did a bad job with communicating to customers about when the power would be turned back on.

As a result, LIPA board members have proposed a new idea to better communication between residents and the utility.

“I think as we go forward, we’re going to see a revision to plans where there’s going to be much more use of firehouses as community-based ways to communicate with the public during major storms,” Lewis told WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall. “Because major storms always present communication challenges.”

Another trustee added that during a major storm, residents could get a daily power update at their local firehouse.

“We are on track towards a very lengthy and complicated process to upgrade very expensive computers that will give better ability to communicate to the public,” Lewis told Hall.

Lewis added that he understands the frustration following the Oct. 29 storm as customers waited to get power restored.

“It’s hard for the public to accept in this modern age where we have instant communications available to us in our pockets everywhere we go, it can take days or even weeks for a utility to be able to communicate with the public about storm restoration efforts,” said Lewis.

Tens of thousands of LIPA customers were in the dark for more than two weeks after Sandy hit.

How do you think LIPA could improve communication with customers? Please offer your comments below…