The Long Island Power Authority said it will have electricity restored to 99 percent of its customers by sundown Tuesday, but the last few are facing Sandy-sparked blackouts possibly through Thanksgiving.
More than 15,000 of 1.1 million homes and businesses LIPA serves remained without power as of noon Tuesday, excluding more than 37,000 structures in the hardest-hit South Shore communities that the utility said need repairs before being safely re-energized. But lawmakers and residents lost patience well before day 16 of LIPA’s worst outage streak.
“We are in the home stretch,” Michael Hervey, LIPA’s chief operating officer, told reporters during a news conference Monday. He said the remaining structures will be repowered “over the next couple of weeks.”
About 90 percent of LIPA customers lost power after the superstorm struck two weeks ago. Federal, New York State and local officials have repeatedly blasted the utility for its performance during the crisis. Residents have protested in their communities and outside LIPA’s Hicksville headquarters.
“I’d tell them, get off your rear end and do your job,” 68-year-old Priscilla Niemiera of Seaford, whose called LIPA repeatedly over the past two weeks regarding her flooded home, told The Associated Press. “Every time I called they hung up on me.”
About 15,000 utility workers from across the nation and Canada are helping restore power, according to John Bruckner, LI regional head for National Grid, the company contracted to maintain LIPA’s system. He and Hervey declined to address the barrage of criticism.
Out of the 37,000 homes that LIPA said are too damaged to be reconnected to the grid, 26,000 are on the Rockaway Peninsula, where the utility has about 34,000 customers. About 300 are in Suffolk County and less than 10,000 are in Nassau County, excluding Long Beach Island, where there are about 1,500.
“The number will never get to zero, not for a long period of time,” Hervey said, noting that temporary repairs made now will have to be corrected later. “This will go on for many weeks or perhaps a longer period of time.”