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LIPA Discusses Hurricane Preparedness

‘Average’ hurricane season being predicted

With memories of Hurricane Irene and the power outages it visited upon Roslyn area residents still fresh in people’s minds, representatives from Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) held a seminar at the Bryant Library last week to brief residents on their new services.

Even though this summer is being predicted as “average hurricane season,” as opposed to last year, which did predict above average conditions, no one wants to take chances and seniors, especially, have well-founded concerns.

At the meeting, entitled “Storm Restoration and Hurricane Preparedness” and held at the request of Village of Roslyn Mayor John Durkin, LIPA representatives Paul Mattera and Lauren Brookmayer explained the complications when dealing with multiple power outages. In times of such outages, the entire line might be down. LIPA workers have to fix all of the shortages along that transmission line—-and there could be dozens of them—-before getting to a particular resident living under black-out conditions.

Still, both speakers said improved communication lines is the major difference that LIPA has made between Hurricane Irene and what exists today. “Our primary role is to communicate,” Ms. Brookmayer said. Toward that end, LIPA has set up a chain of communication in which a resident is urged to contact the mayor’s office of any particular village, with that office instructed to call a LIPA representative who, in turn, will make calls to various call centers, all of which leads to the necessary action. “Communication was a large problem in Irene,” Ms. Brookmayer admitted.

Critical care customer service, namely providing for senior citizens, was another topic of discussion. During “blue sky” days when, as the name suggests, there is no inclement weather, special priorities can be given to seniors. However, during storm weather, that cannot be the case. LIPA, Ms. Brookmayer said, can call seniors several days prior to the predicted storm to offer advice. That would include going to residences of loved ones or others who can provide everyday amenities. LIPA can also provide information on nearby facilities that are open during a storm, whatever services a seniors’ village provides, plus those on local Red Cross chapters. Customers, Ms. Brookmayer added, are advised to make their own arrangements to deal with outages. One of the residents at the meeting said that the Roslyn School District provides for use of the Roslyn High School gymnasium during a storm period.

Outages often come from tree damages. And this, Mattera said, is where LIPA has encountered difficulties. When Long Island was being developed, power lines were often placed close to planted trees. The lines weren’t near the streets out of the way of the tree branches but, in some cases, virtually right next to them, and so, power lines are highly vulnerable to even the simplest tree damage. A single twig can cause a power outage. Again, Mattera stressed communication. LIPA, he said, is willing to do any necessary tree trimmings to limit and correct outages caused by even a broken twig.

For many residents, communication was indeed the main issue. The major complaint from Irene, other than outages, was a timetable on repairs. Residents recalled that no one at LIPA could tell them how long an outage would last. By taken preliminary precautions and warning residents of what to do days in advance of a predicted storm, LIPA hopes to alleviate this and other problems.