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Letter: Sandy On Sandy

My power went out at 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29 as a result of Hurricane Sandy. We had no electric, heat or phone service. Before the outage occurred, we had called LIPA and told them the wires were arcing. They sent the Hicksville Fire Department, who really could not help us. I saw arcing continue until it involved the transformer. I saw the spark and then we lost power. One secondary line came down at that time.

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, a LIPA truck came down to fix the secondary line but they did not look at the transformer. I started to go down to speak to them but they raised their hands to block me and told me to stay away. Then they left. On Wednesday, Oct. 31, most of our block had power restored with the exception of our group of 10 houses at the end of the block.

We continued to call LIPA. On Thursday, Nov. 1 and Friday, Nov. 2, we called Congressman Steve Israel’s office to ask for his help. There was no return call. One of our neighbors called Peter King’s office and was repeatedly given information that our power would soon be restored but nothing happened. On Saturday, Nov. 3, my wife saw a LIPA truck in a local shopping mall parking lot but when she asked if they could help, they politely replied that they did not have our particular grid on their project map and could not help. They suggested she find a LIPA truck in our immediate area and talk to them. She searched but found no LIPA trucks.

The first time I saw a LIPA supervisor was on Sunday, Nov. 4 when a LIPA panel truck came down our block to survey the damage. He said his paperwork showed we had a disaster with wires down and a pole down, which was not the case. He looked more closely and then said we had a “quick fix” but that after working 12 hours, he was too tired to climb the pole.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, another LIPA supervisor said they could not restore service until Thanksgiving. He also claimed that we had – by LIPA standards – a disaster, but this was not true.

We continued in the next few days to call LIPA and report the outage again and again. Many of our neighbors called tirelessly on our behalf, even those who now had power on the block.

Then, on Nov. 8, the nor’easter hit. We got about eight inches of snow. The storm had brought down two houses’ phone/cable lines. They hung low but did not hit the street. Calls continued to LIPA in the hopes someone would return our call or come to fix the transformer. On Nov. 11, a call to the LIPA 1-800-490-0075 outage line said we would get a call back but that did not happen.

Then on Monday, Nov. 12, I spotted a utilities truck (crew brought in from Missouri) in the local Sears parking lot. I spoke to the supervisor and told him of our dilemma. He said they would be down shortly to check it out. About 45 minutes later, they arrived at 10 a.m., and without going up the pole, they used a tool that activated the transformer and power was restored.

Thinking back, when I spoke to the crew from Missouri, they had a map, which was so large and difficult to read that they asked me to locate the street where I lived on the map. The map had to be three by five feet. I have lived in Hicksville for 62 years and it took me more than five minutes to locate my street on the map. This is 2012. Paper maps? Where is the latest computer technology that the average person has at their fingertips?

No, our 10 houses did not suffer any severe damage. We were very lucky. Yes we endured no heat and some families left to sleep elsewhere as it was too cold to stay in their houses. We relied on the kindness of neighbors who had power and invited us in for meals. The occupants of one house who had elderly critically ill residents had to leave to go to the hospital to stay. Another neighbor left to stay with family as they had two small children. One elderly neighbor who had a severe heart condition left during the day but returned at night to stay in their cold house.

Unfortunately, one of our neighbors, out of complete frustration over the lack of response, acted a little irrationally by verbally threatening LIPA on the phone. But for the most part, we all stuck it out and just kept calling trying desperately to get someone down to check out the damage so it could be repaired.

At this time, I would like to publically thank all the men and women who came to help us.

John Sandy

Hicksville Resident