It has been nearly a month since the ferocious “Hurricane Sandy” touched ground in New York City, and hundreds of Rockaway residences are still without electricity, gas, and light tonight.
This is both dumbfounding and perplexing. What is clear is that New York’s utility companies have gone far too long charging consumers the highest rates in the nation while providing poor service. Given the rates their customers pay, one could be forgiven for assuming that LIPA has the most cutting edge technology available at their disposal. Recent reports unearthing the fact that LIPA is still using equipment and tools from the mid-twentieth century raises more than a few eyebrows here at the start of the 21st.
While I’m happy that LIPA’s President Mike Hervey decided to resign, he is taking the easy way out. I ask him before he departs to visit some of the high rise buildings in the Rockaways, where our seniors who can’t climb down twentyfive flights of steps were trapped in their apartments. I ask him to spend the night with some of our homeowners who are bundling together on wet mattresses with their children to keep warm tonight. I ask him to spend a night in the shelter and sleep on one of those hard cots provided by the Office of Emergency Management, which I did the night of the storm. Somehow, I project that all three of my request will be declined.
CBS news recently reported that the governor has the power to appoint seven individuals out of the fifteen members on LIPA’s board. Therefore, I’m calling on the governor today to ensure that at least five of the appointees are local community members. Perhaps one of them should be a family member of the 77 year-old who died, because he fell down a flight of stairs of an unlit staircase in the Hammel Houses in Rockaway.
The only reason we haven’t suffered more fatalities is because of the assistance and generosity of everyday citizens across America. Since the disaster, my office has amassed $1,000,000 in supplies and thousands of volunteers. We directly serviced nearly 8,000 people directly out of our district office, without electricity or lights for days after the storm.
Whether “Sandy” arrived or not the lack of emergency preparedness and systems in place for a disaster are unnerving. This is why Governor Cuomo must either turn the lights off at LIPA immediately or appoint a new board that is ready to ensure we won’t be here ever again. When a company who everyday citizens put their trust in does little to reassure them they can deliver services, they must go. Let’s hire someone who can!