Written by Alan Krawitz Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00
New Hyde Park Mayor Dan Petruccio echoed the sentiments of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week as he opened Thursday’s village board meeting by blasting the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), for its performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Speaking before a group of about 10 residents, the day after a nor’easter storm dropped several inches of snow on Long Island, Petruccio reported there were still numerous village residents without power and he called LIPA’s post-Sandy restoration efforts “unfathomable,” saying that the utility had dropped the ball at “all levels,” and that they “couldn’t have handled the situation any worse than they did.”
Tom Gannon, the village’s superintendent of public works, estimated that as of Thursday, about 20 percent of New Hyde Park residents were still without power.
“LIPA didn’t hit the ground running,” Petruccio said. “In the first two days of the storm, the utility was busy ‘assessing’ where outages were and didn’t begin to make any repairs.”
The mayor characterized the days following the hurricane in the village as a “total collapse of infrastructure…it didn’t feel like the U.S…it felt like a third-world country.”
He also noted that Third Precinct officers were almost “invisible” throughout the storm. He added that many residents were calling New Hyde Park the “forgotten village.”
Earlier in the week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo roundly criticized LIPA for its overall handling of the storm telling Newsday that the utility had “failed the consumers” and further that LIPA’s “management failed consumers.” Cuomo also said that a ground-up redesign of LIPA’s “archaic” and “obsolete” 1950s-era utility system should now be considered in light of the organization’s failure.
On a more positive note, the mayor praised Department of Public Works (DPW) employees who, he said continued with their work despite not having heat or power themselves.
“Our DPW workers went two straight weeks without a day off,” Petruccio said.
And, in praising Gannon’s daily efforts to help try to get electricity restored, Petruccio noted that there was no LIPA-initiated contact with village officials. “Any information the village obtained was a result of extraordinary efforts of village workers such as Tom Gannon, who went above and beyond the call of duty.”
Petruccio also discussed LIPA’s inefficient use of manpower, citing an instance on South Main Street where at least 17 LIPA workers were being deployed to remove a single tree. “We tried to go there and get some of these workers directed to other locations to help restore electric but they told us they were dispatched by LIPA for only this one job. It was a huge waste of manpower,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro reported that the village’s state of emergency, which was declared on October 29, would remain in effect until further notice. He said that there were more than 70 trees down in the village, some of which were still on top of houses and across streets.
Resident Robert Keefe asked Mayor Petruccio about a possible survey of old trees in the village, as a preventive measure to help ensure that trees don’t come down in future storms.
The mayor responded, “It’s the village’s basic policy to not cut down healthy trees.” But, he said that as a result of the storm, many trees have been compromised and may have to be taken down.
Lofaro reiterated that there are still many residents without power and he emphasized that LIPA hasn’t provided “any official information to the village as to their power restoration schedule.”
However, LIPA’s website now reports that 95 percent of its customers have power back.
Specifically, LIPA reported that as of 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10, there were still 103,000 customers without power on Long Island.
A message on LIPA’s website thanks customers for their patience and tells them the utility is working hard to restore power to all its customers.
“LIPA continues the massive effort to restore electricity to all customers and especially those customers in hard hit, flooded communities. We will continue to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with over 10,000 linemen and tree trim crews dedicated to getting power restored. This is the single largest utility workforce ever assembled on Long Island.”
For most of last week, Lofaro said, there was no power in village hall. However, he said that the village’s water is safe to drink and that both Cablevision and Verizon have reported outages they are working to restore. He also reminded residents to avoid downed power lines as power begins to come back.
Trustee Donald Barbieri added that it has been very difficult to reach the utility. “We can’t call LIPA, they don’t answer any phone numbers and they won’t give us any specific information about when all power to the village will be restored.”
Village resident Sean Fitzpatrick asked when his power was coming back. “Gas is another issue—stations either don’t have gas or don’t have power,” he said.
Fitzpatrick pointed out a long gas line, just across from village hall, for a BP station on Jericho Turnpike that was more than 50 cars long.
The mayor said they had no information on why gas in the area continued to be in short supply. They suggested using several online gas locating services such as gasbuddy.com and findgas.org to find local retailers in the area.
For information on power restoration or to report an outage, visit lipower.org. For news on New Hyde Park Village, visit vnhp.org.