Nearly half of Long Island is still blacked out Sunday and a gas shortage continues to grip the region seven days after Superstorm Sandy left a trail of destruction across the Northeast not seen in nearly a century.
More than 421,000 of the 1.1 millon homes and businesses served by the Long Island Power Authority remained without electricity as of noon Sunday, with Nassau County claiming the most outages in the New York metro area. Federal, state and local officials urged the public to remain calm amid the gas crisis and pushed LIPA to get the lights back on quickly as the temperatures drop into the 30s at night.
“We’ve made great progress in some parts,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters during a news conference in Manhattan on Sunday morning. “But we have have much, much more work to do.”
Cuomo reiterated his threat to hold LIPA accountable for their performance in restoring service to ratepayers, saying two weeks is too long to wait for power. He said the gas crisis would continue “for a number of days” and noted that more fuel distribution would be seen Sunday. The governor also asked drivers not to get anxious and hoard gas.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said at the same press briefing that there have been fatalities from residents improperly heating their homes during the outages. Nassau police said a New Cassel woman died after using a grill inside her home.
Suffolk County police said Thursday that they saved a half dozen people from carbon monoxide poisoning after a family used a generator in the basement of their Central Islip home. Generators and grills are meant for outdoor-use only because of the deadly fumes that require proper ventilation.
In the meantime, residents who remain without power are urged to stay with family, friends or in one of the nine Red Cross shelters open across LI for a warm place to sleep.
“People are in homes that are uninhabitable,” Cuomo said. “People don’t like to leave their homes, but the reality is going to be in the temperatures.”
But there was some good news. U.S. Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY) likened the prevailing attitude during the recovery effort to the community spirit that was seen after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
He recalled asking a homeowner in Lindenhurst, one of the southwestern Suffolk communities among the harest hit by the storm surge, whether he would rebuild. “Of course, look at the view,” was the reply.
The Nassau Couty non-emergency hotline is 1-888-684-4274, Suffolk’s is 631-852-COPS and to report an outage, call LIPA at 1-800-490-0075. To find a shelter near you, visit www.redcross.org