Nearly nine months after Sandy, LIPA facilities are still coming back online.
During the storm, five of the energy company’s substations on the Rockaway Peninsula took on water damage, shutting down the area’s power and leaving residents in the dark until repairs were made.
“It’s still a work in progress,” said Nick Lizanich, LIPA’s vice president of operations.
He explained that at the peninsula’s substations, LIPA worked on immediate restoration, which required both temporary and permanent mitigation. He added that in some cases, it can take over a year to order and receive the larger pieces of equipment that were damaged.
Lizanich detailed those issues at a tour of the Rockaways’ substations on Wednesday, July 17. Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and Councilmember Donovan Richards attended to see the repairs so far firsthand.
“LIPA is doing a good job ensuring the elected [officials] are in the loop. Communication was the biggest issue we had during Sandy,” Richards said. “To their credit, they’re taking steps forward.”
In Far Rockaway, LIPA’s substation was inundated by roughly three to four feet of water. Lizanich said workers could not get in for several days, but mobile equipment and mobile substations were brought in to temporarily distribute power. But he pointed out that while “there was power on the street […] no customers [were] attached to it because their homes weren’t safe.”
“There’s a lot of room for improvement in that entire process,” Lizanich added.
Now LIPA is monitoring the fixes and working on turning temporary repairs into permanent ones.
“I think prior to Sandy, LIPA sold us a lot of smoke and mirrors. The storm made it clear there were holes in the system,” Goldfeder said. “But now to see real equipment, real plans and new notification systems is a great thing.”
However, despite visible changes, Goldfeder said “we have a long way to go.”
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction,” Richards said.