Written by Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, 15th L.D. Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00
As we were warned would happen eventually during a storm, West Shore Road has been destroyed. On top of dealing with the stress of power outages and gas lines, residents in that area have lost their main artery.
I am glad that the county honored my request to close the road prior to the storm. I will continue to urge County Executive Ed Mangano, and to fight our Legislative majority - who have been causing an unnecessary delay- to get repairs started.
I have been communicating with the mayors of Mill Neck and Bayville and Nassau DPW on detours and school bus issues. I hope that we can get a plan started right away.
I am also seeking some kind of greater aid from our state or federal government to help rebuild so much of Long Island after this devastation, including this important local road.
We all know that “Superstorm” Sandy, followed by the freezing Athena, have been a tremendous strain on Long Island. Homes have been destroyed. Families have been displaced. Entire communities have been ravaged. While Nassau County residents have proven themselves to be strong and resilient, this has pushed many people to their limits.
I need to humbly recognize all those who have worked so hard throughout this travail. I have been frequenting the shelters in my district, visiting with people at the Glen Cove Senior Center and hearing concerns from those at the warming centers. I also helped hand out food and water in Bayville to some of those who were the hardest hit. It was inspirational to work with so many caring people, and to spend time with so many brave residents. The lines were long for aid in Bayville. There were many coming to Glen Cove City Hall and the libraries to charge phones and get coffee. Many people sought refuge at shelters. It has been heartwarming to see communities coming together.
I was happy to see that after such a bad storm people would look out for each other, helping their neighbors.
It also has to be said that Nassau County and local DPW crews, along with first responders and all our local elected officials have been going above and beyond for many, many long days now.
As far as the very trying power outages, my staff and I have been on calls for several hours each day with government contacts at LIPA. We have been filing and fielding all complaints and questions from residents of the 18th L.D. and fighting for clear information on what was going on in the field throughout the district.
It was frustrating that even as government officials – our direct number even stopped working and we weren’t getting good responses as the communities got fed up with LIPA and sought the help of their government representatives. Eventually I was forced to demand a neighborhood-by-neighborhood rundown on which areas were out, what the cause of the outage was, and what the ETA was for restoration. LIPA assigned me a representative and we are trying to work through the remaining issues in my district.
My office has been focused, since the start of my term, on emergency response. We have actively promoted “CERT” emergency training and I met with Nassau County’s Director of Office of Emergency Management. Part of what I discussed with OEM Director Craig Craft was how LIPA restoration efforts were supposed to be improving after their failure responding to Irene last year.
I spoke with representatives from LIPA who not only assured me that things were better, but took an aggressive position against my office for looking into the issue.
Tracy Burgess-Levy, LIPA head of government and community relations, attacked my staff because I told local papers I was questioning LIPA’s emergency plans.
Unfortunately, as I feared, LIPA had too much left to be improved after Irene. We have learned this the hard way after Sandy. I am now pressing for a Nassau committee to offer New York State some local details and feedback on what went wrong and what we need next time. It only makes sense that we have some insight into the performance of the only power provider available to Long Islanders.
Our state representatives from both parties have done a good job of pinpointing many shortcomings at LIPA since Irene and during Sandy. I would like to contribute to their efforts and see some real changes.
Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton is hearing numerous complaints and concerns about the power restoration process after “superstorm” Sandy. She said, “Homes in Nassau’s 18th Legislative District have been out of power now for many days. These are homes that include families with children, elderly people and people with serious health concerns who rely on power for critical medical-related equipment. These people have either been displaced from their homes indefinitely or they are forced to stay in the house, braving freezing temperatures and snow with no heat, hot water or lights.”
“Everyone knows that restoring power to so many residents after Sandy is a monumental task. But my job is to make sure that the task is done right —- and done as quickly as possible. There were state hearings and town informational sessions after Irene last year, where officials grilled LIPA on problems with its emergency response plans. I am concerned that many of the improvements that LIPA promised after Irene may have not been implemented,” continued Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton.
Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton is meeting with mayors, civic associations, school officials, community leaders and concerned residents to hear concerns and specific complaints about the restoration process. The legislator’s goals are: 1 - Continue pressing LIPA to address specific restoration issues throughout the 18th L.D.; 2 - Develop a timeline for when power will be restored in each area and information on what the problem is.; 3 - Compile complaints and possible problems with the restoration process, which she will analyze at the Legislature and provide to state officials for a review of LIPA’s service.; 4 - Push for Nassau oversight / feedback on LIPA.
“Nassau residents and other Long Islanders have no choice in power providers. New York state officials have done a good job of pressing LIPA to improve its emergency process. I believe that my colleagues at the county level should be able to help them compile useful information and to perform some kind of constructive oversight capacity. I will begin by holding these sessions and compiling information. Then we will explore creating a formal committee or initiating some reporting effort that can assist New York State, sharing local insight into the problems we are encountering,” said the Legislator.