Tens of thousands of homes and businesses on Long Island are expected to still be without power into this weekend as cleanup and electricity restoration efforts continue after Tropical Storm Iasais battered the region.
PSEG-Long Island said that as of Wednesday night, it had restored power to 300,000 customers, leaving about 160,000 still in the dark Thursday two days after the fast-moving storm downed trees and utility wires. The company said it expects to have service restored for 85 percent of its customers by the end of Friday, but with more than a third of PSEG-LI customers without power immediately after Tuesday’s storm, that means more than 60,000 customers will be left waiting til Saturday.
“Due to the extent of the damage, estimated restoration times may not be available or may be refined as additional information is gathered,” PSEG-LI said in a statement Wednesday night. Despite PSEG-LI saying that there were less than 140,000 customers without power Thursday morning, at the same time its website said more than 250,000 customers were still seeking service restoration, suggesting some communications issues persist.
The storm knocked out power to nearly 3 million homes and businesses from New York to North Carolina, according to electric companies. More than 870,000 outages were reported in New York State alone. Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for Nassau and Suffolk counties and other impacted areas.
“The state is working closely with local governments to help ensure they have the help they need to get back on their feet,” the governor said.
Cuomo had ordered the state Department of Public Service to investigate the “failures” by PSEG-LI, Verizon — the telecommunications provider that PSEG-LI blamed for the utility’s phone, text, and website trouble after the storm — and other electric companies for their “apparent lack of adequate planning.”
PSEG-LI said it has more than 2,000 line workers and other crew members — including some called in from other states — working around the clock in 16-hour shifts to restore power as quickly as possible after more than 3,000 reports of fallen trees and limbs.
Members of LI’s Democratic state Senate delegation said that New York State Attorney General Letitia James should also investigate PSEG-LI, Verizon, and the Long Island Power Authority, which oversees PSEG-LI. The senators said impacted constituents include people quarantining at home during the coronavirus pandemic without air conditioning in the summer heat, a wheelchair-bound man whose elevator isn’t working, and another resident who fears downed wires are too close to his pool.
“When PSE&G took over out here, LIPA was supposed to be responsible for the oversight of this utility,” said state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport). “Included in this oversight is that they regularly make sure that they are preparing and testing for disasters like this, including their communication system … We gotta make sure that they are held accountable or if not, we gotta figure out somebody else to do the oversight of this utility because obviously with this storm, they’re not doing their job.”
The Nassau County Legislature’s Sandy Review Committee has also called PSEG-LI management to a hearing 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 in the Legislative Chamber at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola. Lawmakers plan to ask the utility about how it prepared for Tropical Storm Isaias, communication with residents, and how issues can be resolved prior to any future severe weather events.
In the meantime, Long Islanders wait. Among those who’ve seen their estimated time of restoration prove elusive was New12 Long Island anchor Jackie Lucas, who is also bracing for no power into the weekend.
“I’m still out,” Lucas posted on Facebook. “All along PSEGLong Island said restoration Thursday at 3pm… now just checked, Saturday 10pm. Is this for real?”
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