Utility companies in New York and New Jersey closed in on restoring power today to the last of the 8.5 million customers who lost it during the superstorm two weeks ago and a subsequent nor’easter storm.
But tens of thousands of homes and businesses were too damaged to receive electricity, and delays and a dearth of updates have angered residents and Government officials alike.
Power problems remained unresolved on New York’s Long Island, where about 300 people protested yesterday at an office of the beleaguered Long Island Power Authority. About 130,000 of its customers still didn’t have power today, LIPA said, not including the homes and businesses that were too damaged to have the power restored.
“Each day you get a different answer from them,” Carrie Baram, 56, said of LIPA. Monday will mark two weeks since she’s had power at her home in Baldwin Harbor on Long Island.
She and her husband have gone to her parents’ home a few times to shower, and sent their adult children to stay with friends. They had to throw out most of the food in their refrigerator, so they’ve been eating meals out, which was getting expensive.
“It’s dark, it’s frightening, and it’s freezing,” she said.
Workers were repairing unprecedented storm damage as fast as they can, LIPA said.
About 6,400 linemen and 3,700 tree trimmers were at work, compared with 200 linemen on a normal day, said Chief Operating Officer Michael Hervey. He blamed the spotty information updates partly on outdated technology it’s in the process of updating.
“I certainly feel the frustration of customers whose power remains out. Our hearts go out to them,” said Hervey.
Phillip Jones of Uniondale described feeling powerless, reduced to hoping each day would be the day the power came back on. Saturday was that day.
“You get a busy signal, busy signal, busy signal,” when calling LIPA, he said.
Jones, a parole officer, had to miss two weeks of work.
He and his wife and two children had been sleeping in one bed to try to stay warm.
Most of the rest of the outages were in New Jersey, where residents received a boost from kindred spirits in Louisiana, whose memories of devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 prompted them to send tonnes of relief items north via rail in a train that arrived Saturday, organiser Donna O’Daniels said.