Hurricane Irene Brings Out The Best In Leadership, Worst In LIPA

A column from Assemblyman Michael A. Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head)
August 31, 2011

In the wake of Hurricane Irene's path of disaster, Long Islanders have risen to the occasion to stand together, help each other out, and represent the true community spirit of our region. As a local resident, it is truly inspiring to see neighbors stand together to assist one another. I am honored to represent such a strong community.

I applaud the efforts of Governor Cuomo, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and other local leaders who were out here quickly and efficiently to protect lives, property and restore our communities. They defined true leadership in the wake of Hurricane Irene for those in the Long Island community. I am honored to work with these people and I am proud to watch as everyone comes together to rebuild after the storm.

Unfortunately, too many Long Islanders still lack power thanks to Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). LIPA’s lack of communication with the public, government officials and government/municipal agencies initially stalled the process to clear trees and debris which would allow for quicker restoration of power to customers. It is this lack of communication that is disheartening and has left Long Islanders in the dark. There were utility personnel brought in from out of state and around New York to help with the restoration of power, but these trucks and workers sat idle for days because of LIPA's bureaucratic inefficiency and lack of communication.

I understand that power restoration is a tedious process and LIPA has restored some power to homes, businesses and hospitals. I, along with the community, am grateful for those efforts; but, unfortunately, LIPA's performance following this disaster shows that more needs to be done. LIPA needs to have a complete emergency-preparedness plan in place and structural reorganization to get electricity back faster to the homeowners who need it. While state and community leaders were available immediately and up to the challenge of both preparing for and reacting to a natural disaster which caused approximately $1 billion in damage and destruction, the Long Island Power Authority came up short in its mission.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, it is apparent that the lines of communication between LIPA and the community are frayed. While the tedious process of power restoration continues, I look forward to an opening in communication between the Long Island Power Authority and the public, government officials and agencies. It is with this open communication and collective effort that we can find a way to best restore power to customers and help the recovering community.