NEW YORK (AP) - Even as the lights came on
for many who lost power in New York and New Jersey during the superstorm
and a later nor'easter, hundreds of residents protested Saturday
outside a Long Island utility, frustrated by its slow response to
Power restoration has been
slower there than in other areas hit by Superstorm Sandy, sparking
criticism of the Long Island Power Authority. Some of the 130,000
blacked out homes and businesses the utility serves may not have power
restored until the end of Tuesday, according to LIPA.
In the rest of the region
hardest hit by the storm, most service was expected to be restored by
the end of the weekend, though that doesn't include tens of thousands of
homes too damaged to juice up.
"We are sitting in a cold
house. No one comes by," said John Mangin of Levittown, N.Y. "There
should be criminal charges against the CEO and the executive board of
LIPA for failure to do their jobs."
He was among about 300
people staging a rally in front of LIPA's office in Hicksville, N.Y. Not
all were without power, but some who have power said they were there to
protest LIPA's lack of communication.
LIPA Chief Operating
Officer Michael Hervey said the utility was aware that customers haven't
gotten the information they've needed from it, partly because of an
outdated information technology system it's in the process of updating.
"I certainly feel the frustration of customers whose power remains out. Our hearts go out to them," Hervey said.
But he said workers are
repairing unprecedented storm damage as fast as they can. About 6,400
linemen and 3,700 tree trimmers are at work, compared with 200 linemen
on a normal day.
In Suffolk County, where
about 28,000 customers remain without power, County Executive Steven
Bellone announced he was cutting ties with LIPA and would deal directly
with substation coordinators.
Hervey said he would not comment on that directly, but added that an ad hoc takeover of the system would lead to anarchy.
"The utility is the best suited to restore power and manage that," he said. "We can't have people step in and take over."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
has called for an investigation of the region's utilities, criticizing
them as unprepared and badly managed. On Friday, two congressmen from
Long Island called for the federal government to help LIPA restore
"It's a totally
disorganized effort, and LIPA unfortunately seems to have lost control
of the situation and that's why you see so many people becoming so
angry," Rep. Peter King said Saturday.
In New York City and
neighboring suburban Westchester County, utility Con Edison said about
11,400 customers remained powerless, down from a peak of more than 1
million. The number of remaining outages doesn't include about 30,000
Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island homes and businesses that the utility
says are too damaged to receive power for now.
In New Jersey, fewer than
85,000 customers were without power Saturday, most along the coast. That
was down from 2.7 million at the height of the storm. Most were
expected to have power by the end of the weekend.
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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