Lights Coming Back After Irene, but Anger Remains

By Andrew Siff
|  Saturday, Sep 3, 2011  |  Updated 9:32 AM EDT
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    LIPA'S In Hot Water for No Power

    Residents are livid over LIPA's response since the storm.
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    The number of New Yorkers without power following Tropical Storm Irene's punishing rains and wind continues to drop, but many frustrated residents say power companies haven't been working quickly enough to restore power.

    As of Friday morning, there were still about 97,000 customers in New York state without electricity. Long Island was the hardest hit, with 66,000 customers still powerless. 

    "I'm absolutely furious," said Judy Klein of Hicksville. She'd already thrown out all her food and purchased a mini-flashlight when local stores sold out of D batteries. "How could it take so long?"

    Klein's neighbor Steve Gourlay agreed. "I feel like we might have slipped through the cracks," he said. He wondered if LIPA was fixing less populated sections of Long Island before reaching their neighborhood.

    One Hicksville man was so fed up with the lack of electricity he called authorities Thursday and made threats against Long Island Power Authority. He was arrested on an aggravated harassment charge.

    While utility companies said they were hoping to get most of the power restored by the end of Friday, Gov. Cuomo said the response has not been "good enough."

    In a statement, Cuomo acknowledged the response was better than it was during Hurricane Gloria in 1985, but there were still "tens of thousands of Long Islanders" in the dark and said he'd received "numerous" complaints about poor communication to LIPA's customers during the restoration effort.

    His message to the utility companies: Get the power back on, and fast, especially if National Grid wants to renew its contract with LIPA. 

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday channeled similar concerns about power companies' performance after the storm. He said the state Board of Public Utilities will hold hearings on the performance of New Jersey electric companies after Hurricane Irene.

    "We certainly understand the frustrations and I just want out customers that are still out of power to know that we have every last resource working that we can," said LIPA COO Michael Hervey.

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