Written by NYS Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel Friday, 16 September 2011 00:00
I am jumping on the Frustration Bandwagon. Peering out of my Assembly office window the day after Labor Day and seeing rain, I knew that any minute the phones would start ringing once again. Sure enough, a woman who had her power restored after eight days post-Irene, lost power once more. And the calls kept on coming.
My own power went on after a mere seven days; looking at the rain, I feared the dark once more. Frustration was rampant in my office as my staff and I just came off a week from ‘Constituent Hell.’ My office fielded calls and emails in the hundreds. Particularly compelling were calls from people who depended on electricity for their oxygen tanks and other medical needs at home. One woman had just given birth and needed assistance walking and had a leaking transformer in front of her house. We were able to help her.
Now we must ask: what do we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Most of the calls we received were from frustrated consumers who could not talk to a live LIPA person or get an estimated time as to when their power would be restored. On the other hand, when you called my Assembly district office you spoke to a live Sandy, a live Emily, or me.
We did our best to appeal to LIPA and successfully triaged some of the most medically challenged constituents. Emily, my chief of staff, intervened on behalf of the Great Neck School District and helped get their school buses rolling. If I had superpowers, I would have done more. As a mere mortal state legislator, I promise to revisit this issue with LIPA and other stakeholders.
Kudos to the Town of North Hempstead’s 311 System for easing my office’s burden during the storm relaying valuable communications to constituents suffering from outages or unsafe situations. And thanks to Lisanne Altman at LIPA for taking all of our calls.