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Letters: LIPA's role in recovering from superstorm Sandy

Several tree-trimming and power line trucks are lined

Several tree-trimming and power line trucks are lined up and ready to be dispatched in a staging area for National Grid in Bethpage State Park. (Oct. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

To Whom It May Concern at LIPA (A joke since no management at LIPA is the least bit concerned!):

I am a resident of Links Drive, Oceanside (known as the Wedgewood area). I have now been without power for 10 days and counting, with no relief in sight.

There has not been a single LIPA truck in this area at all. I have heard 100 different stories about power restoration to this neighborhood -- frustrating!

Luckily, I had no flooding, no water damage to my house or cars. I empathize with those hit harder than myself. My daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren live in Lido Beach and were not as fortunate. However, family and friends in Long Beach are getting their power back, while this apparently "remote" area of Oceanside has been completely forgotten.

LIPA, you want your payment by some due date, and now I demand a due date from you! Offer me a timeline or schedule of when some crew might arrive here. Are we not damaged enough in this neighborhood to get your attention? Do our pipes have to freeze, or our homes looted before you consider us for power?

Phyllis Goldstein, Oceanside

LIPA/National Grid has refused to bury their power lines, even when local communities have offered to share in the exorbitant cost that LIPA/National Grid imposes. Instead, the company has proceeded to blight every community it serves with unsightly poles strung with rows of thick black wire and topped off with dangling transformers. We were told that this must be done for easy repair and cost effectiveness.

Now the truth comes out! LIPA's/National Grid's 19th-century technology has cost us lives and billions in lost revenue from commerce. Businesses are shuttered because the lines cannot be repaired easily. Meanwhile, people with buried lines are up and running with power.

Bury the lines!

Laurann Pandelakis, Manhasset

I just want to express my own opinion regarding the unpreparedness of LIPA. There were days when the weather channel was warning of a dangerous situation. I live in Bethpage and have been out of heat and electricity since 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29.

In all that time, I have not seen one LIPA truck. Only the Town of Oyster Bay trucks have been picking up garbage and clearing the streets of snow from the nor'easter. Last night, the Bethpage Fire Department came around our area and were announcing on the bullhorn that they will be serving dinner tonight between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. for our few blocks that are without power.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church on Kearny and Stewart Avenue never lost power, and their pastor came around to each house and said to come there and get hot food, water and beverages, and to charge laptops and cell phones since Day 1. I have to heartfully thank St. Paul's and the Bethpage Fire Department.

Maureen Hart, Bethpage

Sandy was a monster. After Irene, I was without power for five or six days -- I never got any information from LIPA but got lots of apologies and a promise, that was reported in Newsday, that if there was a next time, there would be a new and better type of communication. What happened, and who dropped the ball?

Steve Winn, Great Neck

I live on Colonial Place in Baldwin. We have been without lights for 11 days for no apparent reason. We've tried many times to communicate to LIPA to no avail. We are one of 20 families without lights. Is there anything you can possibly do to expedite the return of our electricity?

Michael Woythaler, Baldwin

I am a retired electrician. Many times, I and other union members have been called to work for LIPA to restore power for communities and individual homes on Long Island.

IBEW Local 25 has 500 to 1,000 qualified electricians (many currently unemployed) and trucks that could help restore power and heat. At a time when speed and efficiency is the most important concern, who is more qualified than the people who live and work here? We know the roads, streets, towns and villages, and we would be working for our neighbors and friends.

Call our politicians to ask why, during the worst storm anyone can remember and with 900,000 homes without power, no one at LIPA thought to call our own Long Island electricians!

Ken Udle, Commack

Given their performance in the wake of the hurricane Sandy debacle, here are some proposed changes to the LIPA acronym:

1. Let's Ignite Peoples' Anger

2. Leave Immobilized Power lines Alone

3. Leadership Inept, Public Abandoned

4. Or how about just The Long Island Procrastination Authority?

Mike Mejia, Plainview

I just had my power restored this afternoon. For eight days, I received useless texts from LIPA. Following LIPA's lead, in lieu of payment this month, I will be forwarding the following email to LIPA:

Dear LIPA: Nov. 7: Nearly 60 percent of this month's bills have been paid. Most other creditors will receive payment on or about Nov. 15. Utilities annoying me with useless, ridiculous texts will wait an additional month or more. Will advise when new information is available.

MaryAnn Chirichella, Woodbury

Can someone please find out whether all the executives at LIPA have their power on at their homes? What a coincidence that would be.

What major infrastructure changes to the power supply will be made after this debacle?

Michael Finnegan, Fort Salonga

Why is LIPA the only player being hammered? True, two weeks is a long time to go without power. But have any of the critics seen the amount of damage that must be repaired? The men and women of LIPA and the other utilties are working 12 to 16 hours a day. Many of them also are without lights. Give it a rest.

What about the failure of the Long Island Rail Road? Or the city's inability to have its tunnels and bridges operating? Or the fact that the city's transit is not fully operable?

And the governor's fix for the gasoline shortage: ration when people can buy gasoline. That is an admission of failure to provide basic needs. Or FEMA offering food and water, but for only two hours a day?

There is plenty of blame to go around. Stop pointing fingers.

Dave Miller, Central Islip

I would like to encourage all Long Islanders, when this is over, to question our state leaders about why are we paying among the highest electric rates in the country for this subpar, uncoordinated effort? It is a travesty, and my prayers go out to everyone. Our kids can't even go to school.

With this being said, I am amazed over what I saw on News 12, where elected officials from the state and towns were standing together and pleading for federal help on a grand scale, from the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA and other federal agencies. The request is unprecedented. The reason why this is amazing is because, just a few days ago, Newsday endorsed Mitt Romney who said FEMA should be privatized, and the federal government should not have a role in disasters.

This news conference shows that no one wants government until they have a life-shattering experience, or rather a need for government. That is why our politics should not be whether about government is bad, but about government making a difference for its people and working more efficiently.

Everything that Obama campaigned on -- better infrastructure all over America, climate change -- we are suffering because we haven't implemented anything because of political gridlock.

Everyone needs to face the facts that our state and city government seemed totally unprepared for something on this scale. Long Islanders should now realize that we have a need for government in our everyday lives, and unfortunately we learned this the hard way. We feel this, it is palpable and hard.

We lived to see we are now the ones that need that light of hope and assistance, not just the poor, or downtrodden.

Jean Pettway, Baldwin

While lying in the dark listening to late-night radio, I heard this past week that out-of-town power company trucks were clustered at different locations in Nassau County, waiting for hours because they were not given orders on where to go or what to do by a LIPA supervisor.

I personally saw this yesterday in Smithtown at the Uncle Giuseppie's parking lot on Route 111: at least 12 out-of-state repair crews were just waiting there for instructions from LIPA for more than half a day.

The only reason I finally got power back late Saturday night is that I flagged down a truck from Michigan that afternoon and showed them my power line that had been broken by a falling tree. It was just lying on the ground, and they got out and fixed it, so that power could be restored to the entire street.

LIPA has proven to be a total failure in consecutive storms and emergencies. We must have a change.

Haig Chekenian, Smithtown

LIPA, your customers understand that it will take some time to repair our power infrastructure. However, your customers do not understand the difficulty you have in communicating the status of your work.

A great example of this difficulty is the outage map you recently updated. It is less than useless. Why can't you simply use a Google map, and color the streets red or green as to whether they have power or not? It would be very specific and very useful for people to know whether they can get back to their homes. This would provide very useful progress data to your customers.

It scares me that LIPA thinks that the new map, or the customer data that is currently provided, helps inform their customers.

William Hogan, Dix Hills

LIPA's management insults the intelligence of its customers while stealing their meager remaining telephone power by forcing them to listen to a lengthy rant about how many homes are without power, etc., etc., when they call to report a line down or other dangerous conditions. Furthermore, advising such callers to use the Internet is ludicrous. The world wide web is not a substitute for boots on the ground.

Lillian Polak, Bellmore

Headlines in Newsday such as "Warnings unheeded," "LIPA's inspection folly" and of course, "Why LIPA failed," chronicle the continuing systemic incompetence and arrogance of LIPA management. Two telling items in those stories summarize for me exactly why LIPA failed and will continue to do so.

First, in reaction to crticism of LIPA by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other elected officials, we have LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey's arrogant, "I'm not trading barbs" comment.

Second, the fact that LIPA is run by a 15-member board of non-utility professionals that includes lawyers, bankers and accountants. Clearly what LIPA suffers from is a deadly combination of arrogance, incompetence and greed.

Until that changes, either by legislation putting LIPA under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission or by a complete change in management, Long Islanders can expect to continue paying among the highest electric rates in the country while LIPA continues to fail again and again and again.

Paul Mazurkewitz, West Babylon

Newday's exclusive "Warnings unheeded" is a damning report of LIPA's broken system. Further damning evidence: Check out the file from 2008 showing over 40 LIPA executives earning $100,000-plus salaries.

We are grateful for the dangerous work of linemen, but the executives, having failed to update the system, have not earned their keep. Dante has a circle of Hell for greed and one for fraud. Choose one for these executives.

Harold Slamovitz, Greenlawn

After multiple attempts and long waiting times, I connected with the LIPA emergency number to report a downed wire. My pole and house connections appeared to be intact, however, the wire was dangling about three feet above the ground. I was concerned that if power was restored, it might create a fire hazard.

Given the suffering and distress visited on some of our fellow New Yorkers, I considered myself fortunate with the minimal damage to my house and 11 days without power. With that in mind, I made the call and prepared myself for every negative scenario I could imagine.

Unfortunately, the LIPA representative presented me with the one response that completely escaped reason. She told me that it was my responsibility to call an electrician to repair any damaged connections to my house beyond the power meter -- not what I needed to hear.

Gov. Cuomo, if this isn't grounds to revoke the license granted to LIPA by New York State, I fear the next hostile visit by Mother Nature will re-define the term catastrophe.

Ed Weinert, Melville


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