In the wake of the weekend’s massive storm, which has left more than 60,000 Long Islanders still without power and overloaded Nassau County’s 911 system, state and county officials have called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to immediately dispatch damage assessment teams to Long Island.
“This weekend’s storm did some very serious damage and will require a major recovery and clean-up effort that is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “We need FEMA on the ground as soon as possible to asses the damage and work with state and local emergency officials so we can fast track federal disaster aid to help the municipalities whose clean up budgets were already stretched to the limit after this winter’s record snow storms.”
Schumer said that after the preliminary disaster assessment is completed, Gov. David Paterson is expected to declare a state of emergency and request federal disaster assistance for the affected counties. The FEMA teams will work alongside state, city, and local emergency officials to conduct critical preliminary damage assessments to kick start the process for the state to apply for emergency federal disaster aid, according to state officials.
In order to qualify for FEMA public assistance funding, the affected counties will have had to have sustained a minimum of $25 million combined. Initial reports have Suffolk County alone sustaining more than $30 million.
Of the 250,000 Long Island residents who lost power, 66,500 are still without lights, according to LIPA.
“Many State agencies have been working together to get the lights back on, including the Long Island Power Authority, which has restored power to 70 percent of their customers already,” said Gov. David Paterson. “But there is still much work to be done, and many more New Yorkers who are waiting.”
During the height of the vicious storm Nassau’s 911 system was overburdened by calls. The system then sent those calls to Suffolk County and as far as the New York State Police 911 center in Albany.
“I am ordering an immediate analysis of why this happened, and how it can be prevented. We cannot let another day pass by without addressing this situation,” said County Executive Ed Mangano. “Despite the system faltering, the men and women of our police force, Office of Emergency Management and citizen responders answered the call of duty professionally and tirelessly. I am very proud of every one of them.”
In total more than 300 trees have fallen onto roadways during the weekend’s storm in the Town of Hempstead alone, which appears to have been the hardest hit area on the Island, accounting for more power outages than all other Island townships combined.
The town’s crews are addressing approximately 50 remaining downed trees in coordination with LIPA. These remaining trees are entwined in power lines, creating potentially hazardous conditions for tree crews.
“Our first concern is for the safety of our citizens,” said Paterson. “If you see a downed wire, do not touch it. Consider the wire to be live and report the location to your utility.”
Customers may call the following numbers to report electrical outages:
LIPA / National Grid – 1-800-490-0075
ConEd – 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633)
NYSEG – 1-800-572-1131