Friday, December 15, 2017

Thousands still without power after Hurricane Sandy, rip utility

NEW YORK — New Yorkers railed Sunday against a utility that has lagged behind others in restoring power two weeks after the superstorm that socked the region, criticizing its slow pace as well as a dearth of information.

At least 150,000 people in New York and New Jersey remained without power Sunday, including tens of thousands of homes and businesses that were too damaged to receive power at all. More than 8 million lost power during the storm, and some during a later nor'easter.

The lack of power restoration for a relative few in the densely populated region at the heart of the storm reinforced Sandy's fractured effect on the area: tragic and vicious to some, merely a nuisance to others.

Perhaps none of the utilities have drawn criticism as widespread, or as harsh, as the Long Island Power Authority. More than 60,000 of the homes and businesses it serves were still without power Sunday, and another 55,000 couldn't safely connect even though their local grid was back online because their wiring and other equipment had been flooded. It would need to be repaired or inspected before those homes could regain power, LIPA said.

Customers told of calling LIPA multiple times a day for updates and getting no answer, or contradictory advice. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Sunday that LIPA had failed to answer even simple questions from its customers and that Sandy's magnitude wasn't an excuse.

Mangano and other lawmakers have called for the federal government to step in and assist with restoring power to Long Island, saying LIPA could not be trusted to get the job done.

In New York City, the mayor's office said about 6,000 residents of low-income housing were still without power in 30 buildings. Ahead of a Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was "getting more generators in" and added, "It's a question of how quickly the electricians can set things up."

He said heating is "a more complex problem, but that's coming along as well."

Police raised the city's death toll to 43, after the death of a 77-year-old retired custodian who apparently fell down the stairs of his apartment building in the Rockaways, when it was dark and without power. Family members found him on Oct. 31; he died at a hospital Saturday.

Though New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the destruction, at its peak, the storm reached 1,000 miles across, killed more than 100 people in 10 states, knocked out power to 8.5 million and canceled nearly 20,000 flights. More than 12 inches of rain fell in Easton, Md., and 34 inches of snow fell in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Damage has been estimated at $50 billion, making Sandy the second most expensive storm in U.S. history, behind Katrina.

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