In a show of political force and in a sign of growing exasperation, congressmen, state and town leaders joined with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano Friday in calling for federal government intervention at the Long Island Power Authority.
Hurricane Sandy ripped through the region Oct. 29,
leaving millions of Long Islanders in the dark. Wednesday’s nor’easter did further damage to the already-fragile power grid.
But 11 days into the crisis, Mangano said LIPA’s actions have not
“To put it into terms that Washington can readily
understand, LIPA’s power is at Defcon Two,” Mangano said. “The power
condition is beyond urgent. The Federal government must shake up and
wake up LIPA to get the power turned on.”
Rep. Steve Israel, D-Huntington, said James Lee Witt, the former
director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, should be brought
in immediately to oversee the utility.
“James Lee Witt came in and fixed the federal response to both
Katrina and Rita when no one else could,” Israel said.
“He’s been to my
district at an Emergency Preparedness forum that I organized. He’s
considered no nonsense and a no-red-tape problem solver. He is someone
who actually knows how to get the lights on and the fuel flowing. This
morning, I asked him if he could come to New York, go into LIPA, and get results. And I’ve asked the governor to bring him in immediately.”
131,000 LIers were still without power Friday afternoon, including 82,056 in Nassau.
“Almost two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, LIPA customers are still in
the dark with LIPA power lines and communications lines still down,”
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said.
“A combination of constantly changing policies, poor communications and management void has left
hundreds of thousands of customers with little clear information on
LIPA's power restoration plan and even less of an idea when they may
expect power restored. It's time for LIPA to tell customers the truth,
be accountable and restore power, now!”
Mangano cited the Department of Energy's Federal Power Act section
202(c) emergency authority to bring the full force of the federal
goverment to bear, including the technical assistance and expertise of
the Army Corps of Engineers, along with pumps, generators and debris
removal assistance to restore power.
Mangano was joined by Israel, Murray, Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford,
state Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, and Oyster Bay Town
Supervisor John Venditto.
“LIPA’s performance following Hurricane Sandy has been completely
abysmal," King said. "It has been nearly two weeks since the storm; the
LIPA-led status quo has clearly failed the residents of Long Island who
remain in the dark and in the cold.
"Congressman Israel and I are calling on President Obama to ensure
that Federal agencies do everything possible to dramatically improve the pace of power restoration as well as the flow of information to
customers who deserve to have their normal lives restored.”