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Hundreds protest outside LIPA headquarters

Protestors rally against LIPA outside National Grid in

Protestors rally against LIPA outside National Grid in Hicksville. (Nov. 10, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hundreds of frustrated and powerless Long Islanders at three separate rallies Saturday demanded answers from Long Island Power Authority officials as to why they have been left in the dark for nearly two weeks.

About 400 people rallied outside LIPA headquarters in Hicksville Saturday morning calling for the resignation of the authority's top officials. The group carried signs that read "Help Us" and "Shame on LIPA" as they chanted and pumped their fists.

"We want to stop being lied to," said Joanne Feaster of Hicksville, one of the event's organizers. "Someone has to be held accountable."

Police officers made sure the crowd did not spill into the street, where several passing cars honked in support of the demonstration.

"This is not about the workers," said demonstrator Keith Hickey, 41, of Hicksville. "This is about the management failing."

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes also organized a rally in the afternoon to highlight what they said was LIPA's seeming indifference to its most vulnerable customers -- those with disabilities.

"This is one more example of LIPA saying, 'The hell with all of you. We don't care if you need oxygen to breathe,' " said Murray.

Levittown resident Ziggy Repetto said he has called LIPA about nine times, spoken with five supervisors and has been told that six different work orders have been processed to restore electricity at his home. Repetto has pushed so vigorously, he said, because his 26-year-old son Ziggy Repetto Jr. is a quadriplegic using a wheelchair and relies on electricity to power his air bed, wheelchair and breathing machine.

"Maybe you need to stop lining your pockets and put them back into your antiquated system," Repetto, 47, said outside his home, where a crowd of 40 residents assembled.

LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey conceded Saturday that there's room for improvement. "With a storm of this magnitude . . . we weren't able to give the detailed information to customers the way they would have liked," he said. "At the end of the day, we need to improve that process."

Later in the day, a group of about 150 people rallied at Marjorie Post Community Park in Massapequa requesting answers from LIPA and help from government officials.

"My problem with LIPA is that there is no communication and nobody has come to tell us what is going on," said rally organizer Dawn Kostakis, 41, of Massapequa, adding her home is unlivable after taking in more than four feet of water.

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