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Wires Down: Dead Or Deadly?

In the continuing aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, readers are still reporting dangling, drooping wires in their towns and villages.

There is a difference between power lines and cable wires. LIPA and Verizon said that the top two wires on utility poles are power lines. Verizon spokesperson John Bonomo said, “The reason that electric is at the top is simply for safety sake, and that no employees of any other utility needs to go near the electric wires when repairing their own facilities.”

“Then, further down on the pole are telecommunications and cable companies, and other services, like a municipality that may have wires running, or fire or police departments for their communications, and others,” Bonomo said. “The dangers are real.”

Laura Schultz, president of Residents For A More Beautiful Syosset, noted that this is not a new problem in the area. “Problems with the wire infrastructure that was displaced during the Jackson Avenue Improvement Project have not been addressed. Wiring was left in a patchwork manner with dangling wires. Repairs from Superstorm Sandy were completed in the same sort of temporary, haphazard manner,” said Schultz. “The Syosset community’s infrastructure is left in a precarious situation, awaiting the arrival of the next storm.”

Bonomo noted that when drooping, dangling or downed wires are reported to Verizon, the utility inspects them to determine which utility they belong to. If it is not a Verizon wire, it is reported to the responsible utility.

The same goes for Cablevision, said spokesperson Charlstie Veith.

If it is determined that the wire belongs to Verizon, Bonomo said the utility will find out if the drooping wire is affecting service. “If there is no effect on service, we will repair those wires in a timely fashion.”

LIPA spokesperson Mark Gross said that people should report downed wires to utilities and should always assume it is live. To report a dangling, drooping or downed wire, residents can call Verizon at 1-800-Verizon, LIPA at 1-800-490-0075 or Cablevision at 516-364-8400.