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Letter: Lessons Learned From Sandy

I am writing this article after having my power restored, 15 days after Sandy’s onslaught that caused unbelievable damage to homes and infrastructure in neighborhoods all over Long Island.

Like a lot of my neighbors, I had to make do with the inconveniences caused by lack of electricity, heat, cooking arrangements, etc., as my home is 100 percent electricity dependent (no gas) – small measure, when I compare myself with others in my neighborhood that had damages done to their houses and in some instances their automobile, from fallen trees.

As the “powerless” days passed and I tried to restrict myself from flicking light switches expecting light that wasn’t there, I took comfort in the fact that our state’s chief executive, Governor Cuomo, was squarely in our corner, as almost daily he was serving up notice to LIPA, the villain in this catastrophe, that they were being watched and will be held accountable for their lack of preparedness and inefficiency. But then it suddenly dawned on me that our good governor may not be entirely without blame in this debacle, as his office appoints nine of the 15-member board that runs the nonprofit municipal entity, which is running currently with only 10 members. It also occurs to me that the governor’s office must be aware of a scathing report by Navigant Consulting that LIPA was operating below industry standards in dozens of areas and was not equipped for rapid recovery from major storms (see and www.vantageenergyconsulting).

But I would prefer to focus on some of the more positive aspects that I observed over the past few weeks. It was quite refreshing to see neighbors helping neighbors in every way imaginable, whether it was sharing sources of power from generators, offering their homes for neighbors to heat water, prepare simple meals, shower, recharge phones, offering transportation, assisting in the procurement of scarce fuel, (gas) sharing information from bulletins from elected officials or simply just calling to check on each other’s welfare. It was an experience I will always remember and which will make me even more proud to be a member of this community of all seasons.

I struggled with the thought of not singling out any particular individual for demonstrations of kind, humanitarian deeds during the crisis, because I am sure that such deeds were repeated over and over in various neighborhoods, but I find it impossible not to express my appreciation to The Rev. Jeffrey Krantz, who walked the immediate neighborhood of his church, knocking on doors and delivering leaflets with information for residents to share the comfort of his church hall, for heat, food, charging stations, etc.

Sandy has taught us that we still have a long way to go in preparing for the proverbial “100 years” storm, which now appears to be occurring every three years or so. One of the discussions that must take place as we collectively review what went wrong and what went right, is that we must explore, and make it easier, for ordinary residents to procure alternate sources of power – whether from strategically placed local grids, solar panels, etc. and also to better coordinate the deployment of utility repair teams, with local entities, villages and towns having a greater say in the process.

Chester McGibbon
Westbury resident