Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Jason Molinet.
Nassau County is still largely in the dark Sunday and “has the bulk of the [power] problem now,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Sunday morning news conference.
Just one-third of the initial power outages in the state caused by Hurricane Sandy remain, but the governor said 730,000 customers are still powerless six days later. Nassau is the worst-hit county with 266,000 LIPA customers in the dark.
Chilly weather means the widespread outages, along with a crippling gas shortage, have created a public health crisis for those trying to stay warm.
“We’re very concerned with people sheltering in place,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Manango, who feared residents would stay in homes without heat rather than seek shelter.
Suffolk (138,000 households), Westchester (105,000) and Queens (86,000) each also have large populations without power.
LIPA reports 2,541 linemen and tree trimmers in the field throught Nassau Sunday, including 974 in the Town of Hempstead and another 865 in the Town of Oyster Bay.
While recognizing the severity of the storm, Cuomo issued his daily warning to state utilities to do more.
“I will hold them accountable for their performance here 100 percent,” said Cuomo, who also announced the deployment of an additional 850 National Guard troops from four states.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, sitting next to Cuomo, said 86,000 households statewide have registered for federal assistance and that $97 million has already been deposited in accounts.
“All disasters go through cycles. At some point people will think we’re back to normal,” said Fugate, who vowed that FEMA would remain in the state for the duration. “This will not be done in a month. This will not be done in a year.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, called coordination much better now compared to Tropical Storm Irene a year ago. He said FEMA has $7.2 billion to disburse with more funding coming.
But Schumer prodded FEMA on one lingering issue from Irene. “LIPA, which needs to do a whole lot more, is still owed $55 million from Hurricane Irene,” Schumer pointed out.
Schumer, who toured Lindenhurst Saturday, recounted a meeting with one local whose home along the Great South Bay was devastated. When asked if he would rebuild, the man told Schumer: "Look at the view. I have 364 good days and one rotten one. Of course I’m rebuilding."