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Letter: Open Letter To Long Island Power Authority

Editor’s note: The following is an open letter from the Mayor of the Village of Farmingdale to Chief Operating Officer John D. Mc Mahon of the Long Island Power Authority, dated June 10, 2013.

Dear Mr. McMahon,

It is a recent memory when Super Storm Sandy bore down on us and caused us so much havoc.

We met with former LIPA COO Michael Hervey after Tropical Storm Irene. That was encouraging as we offered our highway department resources to work at removing downed trees that were both entangled in LIPA wires and blocking roads. That worked marginally during Sandy as we were not able to get the needed LIPA personnel to tell us what was safe and what was not. However, I must commend LIPA during Sandy for their efforts to get our water district back ASAP. That worked like it was drawn up in a textbook with the coordination of LIPA and the Village Highway crews working together to get our residents water thereby averting a potential health emergency. 

The Village of Farmingdale was spared as we did not have the devastating flooding conditions suffered by our neighbors, but we did suffer along with other inland communities that have the same and similar issues with rain-soaked areas leading to weakened root conditions coupled with high winds that resulted in a considerable amount of trees down.

We worked well with the local members of LIPA and National Grid when the repair crews arrived. We, in fact, housed 49 repair crew persons from California, Georgia, Colorado and Massachusetts. We set up a barracks in our Village Hall Court Room and on the Main Meeting Room in our Firehouse. We made arrangements for these crewmembers to shower at the locker-room facilities at Bethpage State Park. It was, as you remember, a time of great stress. We pulled together and coordinated with the National Grid Sub-Station manager to get our community back on line.

After the storm there were a lot of good words and talk, but nothing has happened. We have not had a phone call or a meeting about planning to protect our citizens and to get them back on line after the next storm. Amazing!!!!!!!!

Equally as important is that there appears to be nothing happening with regard to tree removal/trimming by LIPA or contracted crews in our area. This is very disturbing. We are willing and want to coordinate with LIPA in order to better protect the public. We have a number of street trees in way of lineage and we also have many homes with electric facilities running through their rear yards. These residences were the most difficult to get back on line because of the need for a number of crews and access problems to those locations. As far as we can determine no tree removal or trimming has been done or even contemplated by LIPA.

On both accounts, the street trees and the rear yard locations, it is a disaster in the making. It seems that politics is more important than addressing the issues at hand. Appropriate resourcing of the things that need to get done rather than pointing fingers and assessing blame should be the order of the day.

We all signed up to serve the public. Let’s do that.

Ralph Ekstrand, mayor of the
Village of Farmingdale