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Officials call for review of LIPA storm performance

Crews from the Long Island Power Authority and

Crews from the Long Island Power Authority and Asplundh Tree Expert Co. cut away at a tree blocking a street in Massapequa following a severe storm. (March 16, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile

As two state lawmakers Tuesday called for a review of LIPA's storm performance, hundreds of new crews were due on Long Island Wednesday to help restore the 30,000 customers who remained without power last night.

State Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) will convene a roundtable to scrutinize various services, including LIPA, while another Republican state senator, Charles Fuschillo of Merrick, Tuesday called for a LIPA review after receiving "dozens" of calls from constituents still without power.

As of Tuesday, affected ratepayers fell into two classes: the lucky and the unlucky.

Alan Tenenbaum of Sands Point, who for two days had a live wire sparking a tree limb like a "giant cigar" in his backyard, is one of the lucky ones - his power was restored at 4 a.m.

Robin London of Hewlett, who also has not had power since Saturday morning, was one of the less fortunate. She stood in a line 15 people deep at a LIPA customer service center in Hewlett seeking answers to many questions after spending three days in the dark.

"There's no answer when we're going to be back up. They're not even giving me any kind of schedule or forecast," she said, after a tense exchange with a service representative when her turn came.

At a news conference, LIPA chief Kevin Law said 600 extra workers would join a force of 2,200 to address 20,000 separate work orders. He said he expects to have 95 percent of the restoration work completed by Wednesday . Some work could trail into Thursday, however.

"In every storm where you lose power, somebody's going to be first, somebody's going to be last and it stinks to be last," Law said.

The final roster of restoration jobs will be among the most difficult to complete, Law said, with many of them involving the fewest customers. "They are much more complicated and will take a lot more manpower," he said.

LIPA said total outages numbered 257,000 since Saturday; as of late Tuesday, 227,000 had been restored. Pole replacement and other infrastructure work will continue long after the restorations are complete, with a "tremendous number" of leaning or downed poles needing repair or replacement.

LIPA said it has reopened call-center lines that operated on prerecorded messages, but some customers still complained of an inability to get a live person.

Ratepayer London said she was told food spoiled as a result of the outage isn't likely to be covered by LIPA. "They said it was a natural disaster," she said.

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