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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Now is not the time for policy talk

LIPA crews work to restore power in St.

LIPA crews work to restore power in St. James. (Nov. 7, 2012) Credit: Heather Walsh

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spent much of his news conference yesterday morning talking about the need to address the region's nagging infrastructure issues.

He's right, of course. Superstorm Sandy and Wednesday's snow-blasting nor'easter exposed long-acknowledged vulnerabilities in Long Island's electricity, gasoline supply, transportation, sewers and just about everything else.

Although Cuomo's analysis is spot-on, his timing is off. It's too soon to talk policy, especially since too many residents are in no position to listen.

Cuomo repeated that the gasoline situation in New York was coming together. Not when I counted nine closed gasoline stations and four gas lines snarling traffic along a portion of Route 110 earlier Thursday.

Thank goodness Nassau, Suffolk and New York City are instituting odd-even rationing to -- finally -- address the situation.

Meanwhile, there continue to be residents like Walter, a clerk at a 7-Eleven in Melville, who said he's been without electricity in his Brentwood home for 11 days. "It's hard," he said.

In North Woodmere, Bob Zucker and his wife got power -- for 28 hours Tuesday into Wednesday -- before it went off again. Their stove -- pilot lights, not the oven -- is keeping them warm. "It's not safe," Zucker, angry and frustrated, said. "This is what we're left to do."

Walter lives near Fifth Avenue and Anna Road. The Zuckers are on Prescott Place, near Glen Ridge Avenue. But while they rough it out, other Long Islanders are leaving their homes. Not just because of storm damage, but because they can't take the cold or the dark or the inability to get meaningful information anymore.

Governor, in three decades of covering this region, I've never seen so much of Long Island left physically and psychologically damaged as the result of a storm.

So, yes, let's have the infrastructure discussion. In fact, the region needs a full-fledged infrastructure summit.

But that must come later. For now, residents are suffering. They must come first.

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