Gawkers head to NY's storm-ravaged neighborhoods

Nov 16 2012, 12:41 IST
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SummaryAt its peak, the storm knocked out power to 8.5 million in 10 states.

Long Island Power Authority. Nearly 67,000 of the homes and businesses it serves were still without power late Sunday. That was almost all of the remaining outages in New York state.

"We certainly understand the frustration that's out there," LIPA's chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, said in a conference call late Sunday. But, he said, the storm had been worse than expected, no utility had as many workers in place beforehand as it would have liked, and the power was coming back rapidly "compared to the damage that's been incurred".

"I was so disgusted the other night," said Carrie Baram, 56, of Baldwin Harbor, who said she calls the utility three times a day. "I was up till midnight, but nobody bothered to answer the telephone."

LIPA has said it knows that customers aren't getting the information they need, partly because of an outdated information technology system that it is updating. Sunday, executives said they were working on setting up information centers near the most heavily damaged areas. The company also said it had deployed 6,400 linemen to work on restoring power, compared to 200 on a normal day.

"'They're working on it, they're working on it' -- that would be their common response," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Sunday, describing LIPA's interaction with his office.

He said LIPA had failed to answer even simple questions from its customers and that Sandy's magnitude wasn't an excuse.

On Staten Island, Napolitano said "a lot of progress" had been made since the storm hit and especially since her last visit 10 days earlier.

"It seems like a different place," she said. "You can really tell the difference."

But, she added, there was a lot more to do. "The last big chunk" to solve, she said, is the question of how quickly power can be returned to thousands of homes without it.

If homes are not inhabitable even after power returns, she said, the government is finding temporary apartments and hotels where evacuees can stay _ preferably in the same community so kids can continue going to the same schools.

On Staten Island's streets, many of the volunteers who carried garbage cans and shovels, or pushed grocery carts filled with supplied carried mobile phones with them and, like Chelsea Chan, paused to take pictures of the damage. Chan said she was taking the pictures for her father who was in another part of New York City and unable to see the damage

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