Editor’s Note: This article was written and submitted by Micah Danney.
Crews began arriving this afternoon to help the Long Island Power Authority restore service to 850,000 customers still without it, LIPA said Wednesday.
The company's restoration estimate of seven to 10 days has not changed, chief operating officer Michael Hervey said, though the speed of the restoration will depend - in part - on the number of personnel LIPA can deploy.
"This will be the biggest storm in all of our history," said Hervey, standing in front of a cracked transmission line utility pole at the Long Island Rail Road Station in Glen Cove.
Hervey said certain locations take priority, including the 18 hospitals on Long Island that lost power, as well as water and sewer facilities and emergency management centers. The storm affected multiple levels of LIPA's infrastructure, Hervey said. The challenge is to restore major transmission lines like the one at the Glen Cove train station before substations and local lines can be fixed. He said jobs like the nearby utility pole take a crew a day to fix.
"It's a little bit out of sight," Hervey said of the transmission and substation work, explaining that LIPA crews will not be seen on residential streets until substations are brought back on-line.
An influx of personnel is expected to help in reducing the amount of time that the recovery would take, he said. LIPA's current force of roughly 1,700 will be doubled in the next few days as nearly 2,000 additional workers are brought in from out of town.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office issued a press release stating that more than 1,200 of them are being redeployed from National Grid's upstate operations. More than 300 transmission linemen and equipment operators from public power companies have been assembled by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), according to the governor's office.
The crews are part of a new Public Power Assistance Team being coordinated by Cuomo.
“Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island and the New York metro area particularly hard, and we must direct our resources to where they are needed the most and can help the most people,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The Public Power Assistance Team will bring line crews from upstate and other parts of the country to downstate communities still in the dark, so we can restore power to affected homes and businesses as soon as possible. I want to extend my thanks to all of the crews who are putting themselves in harm's way to restore power as quickly as possible.”
Supporting crews will be arriving from Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Wisconsin, California, Tennessee, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Florida and Indiana.
Hervey said crews are working exhaustively to get power back on.
"Men and women working 16-hour shifts will continue to work 16-hour shifts until every last customer has power," he said.