When all is said and done, when the last home or business has its lights finally turned back on, our state, county, city, town and village leaders must step in and demand better, as was the case in Connecticut after Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. After Irene rolled across the tri-state area, bringing destruction at every turn, Connecticut took a long, hard look at its response to the storm and came up with a better plan to deal with the worst. The result? Connecticut had power restored in half the time it took New York after Sandy, and it even managed to dispatch emergency crews to other hard-hit states to aid in their recovery efforts. Imagine that.
We clearly need more than harsh words from our leaders, appointed and elected. We need action –– sooner rather than later.
First, we believe the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, must step in and thoroughly review LIPA’s storm-response plans. Binding recommendations for improvement are clearly needed and must be made public.
Second, we call on lawmakers in the State Senate and Assembly to conduct a series of hearings to gather public testimony about LIPA’s response to the storm and potentially write legislation to increase the authority’s accountability.
Third, Long Islanders should write to lawmakers and LIPA officials to demand better.
After Irene, there were calls to hold LIPA accountable for its slow post-storm response. Nothing happened. Why?
LIPA Chairman Michael Hervey has said that the utility would review its post-Sandy response. Such internal reviews, however, rarely provide the critical introspection needed to effect real change.
This time, we mustn’t let LIPA off the hook, because there will inevitably be another Big One, whether it comes next hurricane season or in the distant future. The utility must be better prepared next time.