LIPA, National Grid Sued for 120 Sandy-Burned Homes

Residents in the Sandy-devastated community of Breezy Point are suing the utility companies

By Andrew Siff
|  Wednesday, Jul 3, 2013  |  Updated 1:51 PM EDT
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They watched their homes go up in flames during super storm Sandy. Now more than eight months after the storm, those residents want LIPA to pay. Andrew SIff reports.

NBC 4 New York

They watched their homes go up in flames during super storm Sandy. Now more than eight months after the storm, those residents want LIPA to pay. Andrew SIff reports.

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Photos and Videos

Fires Rage in Breezy Point During Sandy

The attorney for 120 Breezy Point residents who are suing LIPA and National Grid for negligence in the devastating fires that burned down homes during Sandy provided this video to NBC 4 New York of the explosions and fires during the hurricane.

Looking Back: Blaze Destroys at Least 80 Homes in Breezy Point

A raging fire destroyed at least 80 homes in Breezy Point, Queens before firefighters, some battling flames while standing neck deep in floodwaters, got it under control.
More Photos and Videos

About 120 home owners from the tight-knit Queens enclave of Breezy Point that was devastated by fires during Sandy are suing two utility companies for negligence after the storm.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Queens says the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid failed to stop energy from flowing to their homes despite industry standards during emergency weather events.

Home video of the devastating fires, taken by firefighter Kieran Burke, was also released Tuesday. Burke was off duty that night, but went out to try and save neighbors -- and record history with an underwater camera. 

"I figured if anything happened to me, they'd find it in the water and they'd know what I was doing." 

Hannah Sweeny, a 77-year-old grandmother who is among the dozens of plaintiffs, said she's lucky to be alive.

"I'm telling you, I never saw anything so fast. I looked down the street, and the restaurant and five houses -- they had to be 200 feet in the air of flames," she said. 

The lawsuit says the fires that destroyed about 150 homes were caused because the utilities did not de-energize the system, allowing wires and circuits to come into contact with flood water. It says the utilities knew at least since Hurricane Irene in 2011 to de-energize the system.

Keith Sullivan, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which is seeking $80 million in damages, said, "This wasn't a freak accident. This wasn't an act of Mother Nature. This was a choice by National Grid and LIPA to not de-energize." 

Spokeswomen for the two utilities said in separate emails their companies' responses were appropriate and the lawsuit's claims were without merit.
 

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