2010-10-15 / Top Stories

Power Surge Investigation In Final Stages

Some Worry LIPA Will Use Policy To Deny Claims
By Howard Schwach

Sparking wires sat on Rockaway Beach Boulevard for more than an hour on September 12, when a power surge knocked out power and destroyed electrical appliances on the west end. Sparking wires sat on Rockaway Beach Boulevard for more than an hour on September 12, when a power surge knocked out power and destroyed electrical appliances on the west end. The investigation as to why a power surge wiped out electronic components and appliances in a large chunk of the west end is in its “final stages,” a spokesperson for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) told The Wave this week, adding that 82 claims have been made by homeowners who lost those electronic gadgets.

“So far National Grid, which processes the claims on LIPA’s behalf, has received 82 claims,” Vanessa Baird- Streeter, the executive director of communications for LIPA, told The Wave on Wednesday. “National Grid is in the final stages of investigating the incident and once a determination is made we will notify the claimants.”

The high-voltage wire high above Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 136 Street and Beach 137 Street came down early Sunday afternoon, September 12, taking down a number of low-voltage wires and causing a power surge that permanently burned out dozens of appliances, and a myriad of other electrical devices, while exploding light bulbs all over the neighborhood.

“We’re not sure why the high-voltage line came down,” said Baird-Streeter, at the time. “We are investigating the original failure, but the surge caused a problem for the homes in the proximate area.” The wire fell in front of 136-15 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, but homes from Beach 136 Street to Beach 140 Street were without power for about two hours while LIPA crews worked to correct the problem.

Dozens of locals lined the boulevard in the pouring rain, staring at the fallen wire, which was still sparking and smoking 20 minutes after it came down.

Many residents, particularly those on Beach 136 Street, however, faced the horror of popping bulbs and blown-out appliances and electrical equipment.

National Grid provided a claim form for those whose electrical gadgets were damaged by the surge.

At least one homeowner, however, is worried that the company will try to wiggle out of its commitment.

“It looks from the policy statement that came with the claim form that there may be a denial of responsibility,” said the Belle Harbor woman, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution from the company.

That clause in the Claims Policy says, in part, “should the supply of service be interrupted or irregular or defective or fail from causes beyond its control, or through ordinary negligence of employees, servants or agents, the company will not be liable therefore.”

“I have never seen a clause that excuses the negligence of a company’s employees,” she added. “That frightens me.”

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