Cuomo: Nearly 2,000 utility workers join post-Sandy effort

A LIPA Tree Clearance Crew removes downed trees

A LIPA Tree Clearance Crew removes downed trees from Sandy on Lefferts Rd. near Bayberry Ave. in Garden City. (Oct. 30, 2012) (Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)

With record outages facing LIPA, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office on Wednesday announced it had secured more than 1,900 additional workers to work on the Long Island Power Authority's huge restoration effort.

LIPA had previously told of a difficulty securing crews because of intense competition by other impacted utilities on the East Coast, and because other utilities that normally release workers are retaining them to fix their own problems.

Cuomo on Sunday delegated Public Service Commission chairman Garry Brown to monitor LIPA's restoration and communications efforts during the storm. His spokesman, James Denn, said: "Our goal is to ensure power is restored on Long Island as quickly as possible."


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He said the commission would "work directly with utilities and other service providers, both within and outside of New York, to secure additional line, tree and service crews needed to help restore power as quickly, and as safely, as possible."

The commission, which has no jurisdiction over LIPA, also will be "closely monitoring LIPA's performance, including its coordination and communications with local officials, throughout this restoration period."

Cuomo's office said more than 1,200 of the workers are coming from contractor National Grid's upstate operating territories, where their work is largely finished because the region wasn't as badly impacted by superstorm Sandy.

In addition, the New York Power Authority was able to marshall over 300 transmission linemen and equipment operators from public power companies to help LIPA, Cuomo's office said.

LIPA as of Wednesday morning had around 2,000 workers in the field or committed to restoration work, most from off Long Island.

Outside crews are coming from Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Wisconsin, California, Tennessee, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Florida, and Indiana, Cuomo's office said, along with teams from NYPA.

"Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island and the New York metro area particularly hard, and we must direct our resources to where they are needed the most and can help the most people," Cuomo said in a statement.

Earlier Wednesday, Cuomo, asked how local utilities were doing in the storm's aftermath, said, "Let's see what kind of job they do and then I'll tell you how they performed."

LIPA's initial outages topped 945,000. They now stand at around 840,000

Added Cuomo: "The question is, were the utilities prepared? We'll find out by how quickly they get the power back up."

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