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Monday, October 20, 2014

Living in the dark
Thousands of East Mesidents spent up to two weeks without power
David Weingrad/Herald
Benny Diasparra, 26, the owner of Nina’s Italian Deli, stood outside his powerless shop on Newbridge Road.

When Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island on Oct. 29, power outages were to be expected. But no one expected them to last more than two weeks, which was the case for thousands of East Meadow residents.

On Nov. 9, approximately 3,700 Long Island Power Authority customers in East Meadow were still without power, having braved the darkness for 10 days. Local officials and residents alike had grown irate with LIPA, and were calling East Meadow the “forgotten town.”

By Nov. 10, their impatience reached a breaking point. Joined by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes, roughly 100 residents rallied in Levittown, demanding the restoration of power to homes in central Nassau County. At the time there were still more than 8,000 outages in East Meadow, Salisbury and Levittown.

Their voices were heard. Over the following two days, LIPA trucks finally began arriving, and as of Monday evening, the number of East Meadow customers without power dwindled to 1,252. As the Herald went to press on Tuesday, the number had shrunk to 374.

State Assemblyman Tom McKevitt, who lives in East Meadow, said he was told by U.S. National Grid Executive Director Tom King that the storm caused more downed electrical poles to fall on residential properties in East Meadow, Salisbury and Levittown than anywhere else — including the South Shore. “So certainly it’s more labor-intensive and requires more man-hours to repair broken poles in East Meadow than it will in most other places on Long Island,” McKevitt said on Monday.

“But the response was still unacceptably too slow,” he added.

County Legislator Norma Gonsalves, who also lives in East Meadow, told the Herald on Monday that after speaking with LIPA and National Grid officials, she believed that all of the power in her district would be restored by Tuesday. “I think it’s coming to an end,” Gonsalves said.

But still, she added, “The lack of communication for the past 12 days was enough to kill you.”

Rallying for power

“I’m asking LIPA once again … do your job, be accountable and tell the truth!”

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