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PR pro says LIPA's Law failed at communication

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

The lights went out at Flo Federman's West Babylon house Saturday night at the height of the nor'easter. Her mom was visiting from her winter home in Florida, so, with a baby-sitter in place to watch her daughter and son, she initially kept plans to go out with her husband.

But with the howling winds pushing trees sideways and the rain pouring down, they decided to order in.

"Little did we know we'd be doing that for the next two or three days."

Federman said that at first, the family thought it be fun to have the lights out. "We put on candles and tried to make the best of it."

And she understood that there would be delays in restoring power. The repair workers, in particular, she said, "were given an untenable situation, and the were working 'round the clock."

Federman, the marketing and communications director at Melville accounting firm Holtz Rubenstein, did take umbrage, however, to Long Island Power Authority president and chief executive Kevin Law's statement on News 12 Long Island Sunday that customers without power should "chill out" as crews worked to get the lights back on.

"I thought, 'Oh. My. God. What a poor choice of words, poor choice of attitude.' He obviously wasn't affected, doesn’t know what it’s like to wonder, 'how are my children going to eat and shower?' "

"This was a crisis-communication failure. He's the face of the organization and he’s telling people to 'chill out?' I was really peeved about that."

Federman, who stayed at her mom's Blue Point house while the power was out, found out that things were back to normal Tuesday afternoon when she called home from work and the phone rang instead of immediately going to voice mail.

"It was such a pleasure to sleep in my own bed. It makes you appreciate the minutiae
of life. We should be more grateful for it."

As of Wednesday morning, about 21,000 customers were still without power, down from the height of 257,000.

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