As we near Thanksgiving, we are grateful for the work done by first responders and volunteers helping Queens families survive Hurricane Sandy. Nevertheless, it is taking too long to get power back in parts of Queens.
The power companies dropped the ball, especially the Long Island Power Authority, which is responsible for the Rockaways. More than two weeks after Sandy hit, the lights should be on in every home, but they are not.
The problem was management, not the crews, which worked around the clock.
Residents say they often see LIPA and Con Ed trucks parked on the sides roads waiting for direction. The LIPA crews are managed by an outdated 25-year-old mainframe computer.
LIPA was warned of its shortcomings in a 2006 report and again last year after Hurricane Irene, but the new management system wasn’t ready when Sandy hit.
In a news conference last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the utilities virtual monopolies run by nameless and faceless bureaucrats.
“We’re going to have to look at a ground-up redesign,” he said.
When the crisis is over, Albany must hold the state-owned utilities accountable.
Volunteers Still Needed
The relief effort in Queens in the wake of Sandy has been impressive. Waves of volunteers have taken part in the massive relief effort, but an organizer told TimesLedger Newspapers that more needs to be done.
“The No. 1 need is for volunteers,” said Alison Thompson, an organizer at Belle Harbor’s St. Francis De Sales Church.
There are the elderly who did not obey the mandatory evacuation order. They cannot travel far to get food, medical supplies and assistance. Without the help of volunteers, they might not have survived.
Every day trucks come bringing water and food, toilet paper and other supplies, but more volunteers are needed to make certain supplies get into the hands of those who need them.
In the Rockaways and communities throughout Queens and the metropolitan area, ordinary citizens have stepped up to the plate and filled in the gaps where government has fallen short.
They have demonstrated the triumph of the human spirit.