I have in hand the LIPA newsletter that accompanied this month’s bill, and I want to share some of it with you (especially you who have been without power these last six days, as has been the case with me and, from what I can gather, numerous other working stiffs in Springs).
Interestingly, the newsletter has as its heading, “LIPA Is Prepared for Hurricane Season, Are You?”
And so to begin: “LIPA prepares year round for not just hurricanes, but all storms. Our preparations include; numerous storm drills, reviewing and updating storm emergency procedures, enhancing customer communications, and a continuous ‘tree trimming’ program to identify and trim tree limbs in rights of way and along easements that could potentially cause outages during or after a storm.”*
“Last year, LIPA aggressively implemented a new communication program in order to better inform customers about outages and restoration times. . . .”**
Well you could have fooled me.
I asked a neighbor, a Verizon retiree, what the matter was in our neighborhood, and he said a circuit breaker at the corner had “popped” during the storm. Not a big deal, I should think, and yet since 10:20 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28, until 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2, we had no electricity and no water.
I have a radical proposal — actually, several. Aside from the obvious priorities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and public gathering places, fix first the easy things, especially in neighborhoods which have private wells, as most of Springs does, before tending to those who know by the visual evidence — trees draped over power lines, splintered poles, and downed wires — that they’ve been screwed.
Then, really do trim the trees, with an augmented work force if necessary, in the non-hurricane months.
Or let them flourish and exfoliate and bury the power lines. Of course, the cost would be sky-high, but would it be so out of sight compared to the costs incurred by periodic emergencies such as this one that cause LIPA to augment its maxed-out work force with crews from far-flung places? Bring the actuaries and climatologists in. Are more and more storms like this in store? If so, then maybe burying the lines would not prove to be so unthinkably onerous in the long run.
A neighbor with whom I stood on line at Starbucks last Thursday morning, and who was as baffled as I about the lack of attention to the aforementioned circuit breaker, said relatives living in the Outer Banks, where the lines, he said, are buried, had had no outages.
And remember, “LIPA Is Prepared for. . . .” No, no, I’ll not belabor the point.
*Mary said she saw many limbs hanging on the lines along Springs-Fireplace Road before the storm hit.)
**On day five, Mary got through to a LIPA spokesperson, a Mrs. DeVito, she thinks, whom she described as “a very attentive, very empathetic listener deserving of a raise,” but who, in the end, could offer little more than solace.)