After 11 days without power and heat, and after days spent on the phone yelling at LIPA, my town, and Governor Cuomo’s hurricane hotline, we got power back last night.
When a solitary workman with a truck showed up on my street (I had stayed on the phone for 5 hours until I got through to someone who actually dispatched him to my block), I was shattered when he told me that no, he wasn’t there to restore our power and there was no team coming to remove and replace the broken pole two doors down. He was just there to secure the “Killing Zone” that had made our street impassable and was putting children at risk of injury or death if they tried to walk down the block to get to school.
That kind man took pity on us, though…. and neighbors from nearby blocks who, seeing the truck, raced over to ask him if he would come to their blocks, too, and what could he do for them. We had not seen any actual work crews in our area for 11 days. Neighbors were all understandably angry, cold, frustrated, and worried. The LIPA worker (and he was one of LIPA’s own crew) kept his calm and tried to explain and help where he could, but as he said, he was just a one-man crew.
When he got done with his assigned task, he called my town to tell them they could now come do their part and remove the downed tree that had been tangled with the power lines so that LIPA could come back – in a few days or weeks? – to restore our power. To our pleasant surprise, our town sent a crew over immediately, and amazingly, the LIPA worker stayed.
He stayed, and when we raced back out to find out what he was doing now, he told us “Go make sure your master switch is off. I think I can get you power back tonight.” We sat there, watching out the window. When a street light came on, I realized I had been holding my breath. Then the phone rang, and it was Governor Cuomo’s hotline calling me to follow up to see if we had our power back. I don’t know if he actually did anything to help us, but was pleasantly surprised that he had his management team call me, even at night, to follow up.
And so last night, my house and three other homes on my block got our power back. And some of my neighbors on other blocks whose lines were on the same lines got their power back. The rest of my block is still in the dark and cold and will not get their power back until LIPA sends out a team with a pole and wiring crew to help them.
Our friends and co-workers south of us are still homeless as their homes were flooded and are either uninhabitable or, in one case, sitting at the bottom of ocean. We have much to do to help them. FEMA has been out in force, and every terrible thing you heard about FEMA after Katrina doesn’t apply here. They’ve been great to the people we know who’ve called them for emergency help. We haven’t called FEMA because we know others are in greater need. We can wait. They can’t.
And so last night, we walked over to some neighbors still in the dark to tell them they could come take shelter here in our house. Many had evacuated already, unable to take the bone-numbing cold we’ve been living with even before the nor’easter that dumped over 7″ of snow here and took down yet another tree that blocked our street from the other end.
LIPA has failed Long Island. It is not the first time. It will not be the last time unless they are forced to upgrade/update the system and bury lines instead of using an above-ground system where any strong wind can take down trees, poles, and wires.
Last week, I started filing Freedom of Information requests with LIPA. Regular readers will understand that I am not done with LIPA mismanagement.
Great thanks to readers who emailed, offered us shelter in their homes, and sent me links to news stories for my blogs. One Canadian reader doesn’t want to be named, but not only did he offer us and our dogs shelter in Canada (and he meant it), but many of the items you’ve seen on this blog in the past week are due to him feeding me links.
Later, I’ll have to go out and buy food. And wait 2-3 hours online to get gas. This weekend we’ll have to clean up the mess here.
And pray that another tree doesn’t come down and take us all back out again.
But it’s good to be warm and have a connection.