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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oceanside rallies for restoration
Local politicians rebuke LIPA
Penny Frondelli/Herald
Superintendent Dr. Herb Brown addresses a crowd in front of Oceanside School 8 Friday morning.

Several hundred Oceanside residents — cold, angry and still without power — gathered at School 8 the morning of Nov. 9 to voice, and often shout, their disapproval with the efforts of the Long Island Power Authority and local politicians since Hurricane Sandy devastated their community.

The press conference-turned-rally, organized by Oceanside School District leaders, was held outside one of the district’s hardest-hit schools and served as yet another reminder of the travails residents have faced without electricity in what many of them have described as the “forgotten town.”

Superintendent Dr. Herb Brown began by explaining how the district and the Oceanside Community Service organization had helped residents. Oceanside High School football players carried flood-destroyed furniture out of homes, Brown said, while principals and teachers knocked on doors to say hello to district children and students, staff and PTA members prepared hot meals for residents at the high school.

“Our community has come together as it always does, in an amazing show of community spirit,” Brown said. “This is a disaster beyond the scope of anything our community has ever dealt with. Families are suffering in cold, dark homes. It’s impossible to care for children in these circumstances.”

Brown and Board of Education trustees Sandy Schoell and Bob Transom told residents that schools would reopen for the district’s 6,000 students on Nov. 13, three with electricity restored and others powered by generators.

As she stepped to the lectern, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray was greeted with a chorus of boos, though the focus of the crowd’s anger quickly shifted when Murray began a chant of “Where is LIPA?”

“They won’t talk to us,” Murray said of the utility, echoing the complaints of so many residents. “LIPA has absolutely abrogated all of its duties. They should be wiped off the face of the earth after this.”

Murray described a discussion she had with LIPA’s chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, saying that when she asked him whether residents south of Merrick Road needed electricians to inspect their homes, he responded that he could not answer. (Hervey resigned on Tuesday.)

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