The Long Island Power Authority said Friday that crews have restored power to about half its 1.1 million customers and are bringing in out-of-state crews at record levels, but the majority may not have power back for another week.
Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to 900,000 homes and businesses —90 percent of LIPA’s customer base—and that number dwindled to 525,000 as of sundown Friday, according to the utility’s website. More than 3,000 crews are working on the Island, about 1,000 more than last year when Tropical Storm Irene hit.
“We’re bringing in every possible crew and lineman that we can,” LIPA Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey said, adding that nearly 1,000 workers are arriving daily. He said it was a “nationwide effort” to get customers powered up again.
Crews were coming in from California, Arizona and Canada. Some were being airlifted to New York on military aircrafts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned LIPA that the utility’s right to do business in New York State is on the line. He has repeatedly warned that he will hold management accountable.
“We’re making great progress but I want to do it faster,” said Hervey, who announced Friday that customers should have power back by Nov. 11.
LIPA has repaired most of its substations, officials said, but those in flooded areas are still knocked out. The utility has focused its attention on main roads, businesses, government offices, schools, hospitals and the Long Island Rail Road, and is now working its way into local communities.
More than 7,000 people are currently on the streets working on restoring power, officials said. National Grid said it has about 5,000 people on the ground and an additional 1,500 will be arriving from other out-of state utilities done restoring power following the massive storm that rocked the Northeast.
Compounding the problem is the number of downed trees and power lines blocking roads across the Island. Tree crews have had to go into neighborhoods to remove fallen debris before line crews could restore power.
The utility is trying to return power to some of the largest outage areas and will then concentrate on smaller areas, Hervey said.