Promises made as power outages persist in East Coast
(CNN) — East Coast residents, some of whom have suffered without power for 12 days, waited Saturday for officials to come through on big promises to end the blackouts.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he expects power to be almost fully restored by the end of the day to the approximately 127,000 customers in his state living in the dark.
“Life will be back — for most of New Jersey — to normal come Sunday,” he said Friday.
One week ago, more than 2.4 million customers were without power in 10 states and the District of Columbia following Superstorm Sandy. This week’s nor’easter hampered some of the repairs.
By Saturday, about 280,500 customers remained without power in the region.
The majority of New Jersey’s outages are the responsibility of Jersey Central Power & Light. The company’s website backed Christie’s prediction, with a map showing that most areas will have electricity restored by Saturday night.
Relief was not as certain next door on Long Island, where a majority — 130,000 — of customers remained in the dark.
Those homes are served by the Long Island Power Authority, a utility that has come under fire by residents and politicians alike.
Angry customers flooded the company’s Facebook page with insults and stories of suffering a cold winter without power. One man redesigned the utility’s logo to read “Lie-pa,” as opposed to its usual acronym, LIPA.
LIPA officials stressed Saturday that getting people back online is the utility’s top priority.
“We all want to get this wrapped up,” said LIPA COO Mike Hervey. “We want to get the lights on as quickly as we possibly can.”
More than 1 million customers have had their power restored, according to John Bruckner, president of Long Island Electric Transmission & Distribution Services for National Grid.
“We expect to restore 99% of the customers who lost and can safely accept power by the end of day Tuesday,” Bruckner said.
On Friday, local and federal officials who stood to speak before residents in Oceanside, on Long Island, were met with boos and pointed questions about whether they had any power and how comfortable they were.
“What are you doing for us?” some in the crowd shouted.
Braving the boos, Kate Murray, presiding supervisor for the town of Hempstead, suggested residents ask themselves where the utility officials are.
“LIPA is the only entity that can turn on your electricity. Where are they?” she said. “They won’t talk to us. We call them every day; they won’t give us one answer.”
Murray seemed to successfully shift the residents’ cries against the politicians into chants of “Where is LIPA? Where is LIPA?”
“LIPA has absolutely abrogated all of its duties,” she said. “They should be wiped off the face of the earth.”
No one from the utility was present to address the anger. In a written statement, the company said it has more than 8,200 linemen and tree-trimming crews making progress.
“When possible, we will restore power to customers who have been without power for the longest time,” the utility said in the statement. “Your safety and well-being remain our No. 1 priority and we thank you for your continued patience during this difficult time.”
On Saturday, Bruckner acknowledged the frustration and said utility workers “will not stop” until power is restored to everyone.