Powerless – literally and figuratively…

5 years ago

It is now fifteen days since Hurricane Sandy hit. It is now fifteen days we have been without power.  Fifteen days is a very long time….


Sure, it is difficult to go fifteen days with no electric, no heat, no hot water (especially in New York in November) no television, no internet, no refrigerator, no ability to do laundry…. But that is only part of the problem.  In areas hard hit by the storm, like my town, there is so much clean up and repair work that has to be done to restore our damaged homes.  Having no power hinders that progress, making some work impossible.  In addition, homes, like mine close to the water (and over a stream) require active sump pumps to prevent flooding.  With no power to run them, the use of gas generators is required.  Homes in my development have been relying on these generators, solely to run sump pumps since the storm hit – this just adds to the gas crisis hitting the state.


But being in the literal dark wouldn’t be that bad if you felt that your situation was getting proper attention or that you were getting clear and precise information regarding your situation.  That way, you can plan accordingly.  But being in the dark about when (or if) power will be restored is unacceptable, I think.


Electric in my area is controlled by LIPA (the subject of many angry people).  The service, communication and misunderstanding they are providing is beyond unacceptable, in my opinion.  Last week we learned that in order to have your electric restored in certain areas, including the one I live in, you needed to be certified by a licensed electrician.  When questioned further we were told that wasn’t the case. Instead an electric certification company had to certify you.  Last Thursday we arranged for this type of company to visit the forty-eight homes in my development.  They checked us out and we passed.  However, before they could finish the work, and prepare the documents, they were told by LIPA that LIPA wouldn’t accept the certification.  All certifications had to be done by the village building inspector.


This man, assisted by another gentleman has to go home to home and certify that your electric boxes weren’t compromised.   He started on Friday and as of last night, only a small fraction of homes were turned on.  He has to follow a map given to him by LIPA.


Marc and I know the building inspector very well.  He is a wonderful and hardworking man.  He has been tireless in this task, but he is only human.  How can two people certify an entire town?  How can he be expected to certify an entire town when he has a damaged and destroyed town to rebuild? 


Try contacting LIPA?  They give you links to their website.  Seriously?  We have been without power for fifteen days.  Marc and I personally have been out of work for almost two weeks.  How are we supposed to check websites for information?  We conserve our phone batteries like they are precious commodities (which they are) when we are home.  When we are at our offices and have the ability to utilize the web we can’t because we have to focus on our jobs….


I managed to get a DM on twitter from a LIPA representative last night.  He told me that the information that was given to us on Thursday (requiring us to be inspected by the village was incorrect).  So we could have received power a week ago?  Misinformation seems to be a common issue… Everyone I speak to seems to be getting conflicting information from LIPA.   No one knows how to act and tempers are rising as temperatures dip lower.


I understand the need to check homes to make sure that they are able to accept electric.  I understand that if power is turned on in an unsafe home there is a chance of a fire, which would be further devastating.  However, many homes like mine the electric panel wasn’t comprised thus would be safe.  In other towns, like where my brother –in-law lives (and where we evacuated to) they had major flooding.  Their power was restored a week and a half ago, no inspections needed and no questions asked.  How is that possible?  When I asked LIPA yesterday as part of my DM correspondence on Twitter guess how they replied?  Correct – they didn’t!


LIPA is trying to show the public that is slamming them on conventional and social media that they are actively working on solving the electric issues.  They update their outage maps to show how many people were restored and how many people are still affected. However, what they don’t advertise is the fact that their numbers aren’t accurate.  For example on the outage map last night I saw that my town had twenty-one outages.  My development alone has forty-eight homes, not to mention the rest of the village.  When I asked LIPA about this as part of my DM correspondence they chose to ignore my question as well….


At this point, I don’t know when to expect electric, and it is very frustrating.  I could cope better with the situation if I felt we were getting complete and honest information as well as if it appeared that the proper resources were made available to restore the homes of so many people hard hit by Sandy….

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