20 Aug 2014
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Town Storm Update: Walter Warns Against Scammers

Supervisor blasts price gouging and gives a LIPA, gas update.

Town Storm Update: Walter Warns Against Scammers

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter has worked tirelessly in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to keep residents informed.

In a Friday update, Walter reminded that the American Red Cross would be distributing food and water on Friday, beginning at 4 p.m., at the Riverhead County Center and in Montauk.

In addition, Walter said the Long Island Power Authority had issued an update that said 44 substation are being rebuilt, as well as one third of transformer lines that bring power to the substations.

The majority of power is expected to be restored to residents by the Nov. 10 and 11; some could take a week or more, depending on if there was extreme flooding.

On the subject of gas, a hot topic across Long Island, Walter noted residents have been waiting hours in line for gas at area stations, many of which have run completely dry. "Gas supply was disrupted in the aftermath of the storm. The state and federal government have worked diligently to restore infrastructure and gas supplies should return to normal levels shortly," he said.

Walter added that the town is advising residents to conserve gas through the weekend by staying home or remaining local. The town has restricted gas use at its facilities to only essential services and personnel.

Walter also applauded the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs for their efforts in monitoring gas prices and watching out for gouging. 

"We have seen gas prices increase as much as forty cents in a day during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and you have to ask yourself, 'Is this rapid rise due to market forces or bad behavior?'" Walter said. "Unfortunately, natural disasters often bring with them those looking to make a quick buck."

Walter said, with New York harbors reopened and barges bringing cargo, he expects the market supply to stabilize by next week, lowering prices.

Some residents, frustrated by long lines and limited fuel supplies, have gotten into disputes at gas stations, Walter said. "I urge consumers to be patient, calm and orderly in the wait for gasoline. What we don't need are frustrated energy buyers taking out their aggression on each other."

Finally, Walter warned residents of scammers. "It is unfortunate that natural disasters bring with them ‘quick-buck artists’ who are looking to ply their trade," he said. "Reports are circulating about unknown individuals using the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to pose as LIPA workers or repair people in order to gain access to residents' homes."

He advised that LIPA workmen never need to enter a home to make repairs. "Please do not open your door to, or allow in, anyone who claims to be a repair person. We New Yorkers have a pretty good instinct for recognizing nonsense when we hear and see it, but slick scam artists do rear their ugly head when people are at their most vulnerable."

If something seems suspicious, Walter told residents to call the Suffolk County Department of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-909-5423 or 631-853-4600 for further information.

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