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UPDATE: Massapequa Park Mayor Blasts LIPA Storm Response

Altadonna asks for more help and better communication.

With thousands still without power in Massapequa Park nearly 24 hours after Hurricane Irene has left the area, Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna has become frustrated by LIPA's response.

At last report 4,568 of Massapequa Park's 5,961 customers were without electricity according to LIPA's website , although the number may be lower since the company announced Monday they were only updating the local numbers twice a day.

Altadonna says he hasn't been provided with the number of outages and is not happy with what he's seeing on the ground.

"I'm not pleased by LIPA's response," he said. "They had a great pre-storm public relations campaign but they haven't delivered. I'm very discouraged."

The mayor who's toured the village numerous times since the storm struck early Sunday said on Monday he'd only seen one LIPA truck in Massapequa Park. 

He said he's been in contact with the power company and the response has been "We'll get to you when we get to you."

Altadonna would like to see LIPA give municipalities more updates and information on when power is going to be back on.

"For those in the village who are frustrated, all I can say is I feel your pain, my power is out too," he said.

The mayor said that all of the main and secondary roads in Massapequa Park have been cleared except for the streets where toppled trees have become entangled with wires.

He added that he's willing to have village workers clean up the trees, but they can't do it if the wires aren't moved.

"We'll get the trees up, just get the wires up and tell us we're safe and we'll do our jobs," he said.

LIPA spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the company is dealing with a massive cleanup throughout all of Long Island.

"Hurricane Irene affected 523,000 coustomers throughout Long Island," she said.

"We've responded on the village level, on the town level, on the county level and on the state level. We're not going to be able to remove all the trees and all the wires at the same time." 

Baird-Streeter said she realised customers were frustrated and said the company was trying to restore power to as many customers as possible as quickly as possible.

As of 4 p.m. Monday LIPA said 345,000 customers were still without power on Long Island.

Dr. Cynthia Paulis August 30, 2011 at 01:52 PM
The mayor needs to get his own house in order. There are several large trees down on Avoca and Glengariff completely blocking the streets.The trees were removed from Bar Harbor on Sunday. These trees are still here on Tuesday with no response from the town. This is only two blocks from the Mayor's office. The streets are still littered with debris and branches. Why are the street sweepers not out cleaning? Do our taxes count for less than the folks by the water. C'mon mayor get with the program and clean up the town and get these trees off the roads.
Rob August 30, 2011 at 03:45 PM
I think Mass park has been doing a great job. I live North of the tracks and saw trucks cutting and cleaning up trees Sunday around 11 AM. Driving around i see very few trees left in the streets. The trees you speak of may have a wire in it and they cannot clear it. Why can't the Park get its own Electric like Freeport? Not sure if it would lower or raise or rates but then at least we know who is responsible.
peggy caltabiano August 30, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Dr. Paulis needs to understand that safety is paramount. The Mayor is well aware of the trees down on Avoca and Glengariff, and many more, including those in Bar Harbor, all of which are either entangled in or lying across wires. Village crews cannot remove the trees until LIPA has cleared the wires. The Village's priority is to clear all roadways. Debris pickup will not happen until all roads are clear. Public Works crews have worked from Saturday at midnight and will continue to work from dawn to dusk until the Village is restored to pre-Irene. If Dr. Paulis would like to know the Village's procedures and method of operation, I invite her to call me. Peggy Caltabiano, Village Administrator, Village of Massapequa Park 516-798-0244.
Dr. Cynthia Paulis August 30, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I just got off the phone with Mayor Altadonna who took the time to call me in response to my previous comment. According to the Mayor he had no cooperation from LIPA until he contacted the Governor's office and the Senator's office and the local papers and Patch,and finally he received a response. He informed me that the trees cannot be removed until they can determine if the wires are live or not and he assures me that LIPA is now giving the town the attention it deserves in not only restoring power but in removing the trees.He explained to me how frustrating it was to receive no response from LIPA and that he tried every government agency to resolve the problem. As a resident of Massapequa Park I appreciate that he took the time to explain the roadblocks he was running into and his efforts to resolve them. Thanks to the crews who have been working long hours according to the Mayor and Peggy Caltabiano in the effort to clear the roads.
Laura Pelly August 30, 2011 at 09:41 PM
I would like to mention that, first and foremost, as residents of the village, we should all be grateful that none of our residents were seriously injured, which could have been the case. While the loss of power is a big inconvenience, loss of life would have been unspeakable. That being said, I think the LIPA workers are working tirelessly to restore power for everyone. The level of frustration occurs when there is no communication and, therein lies the problem. I think all villages and towns on the island should have an assigned contact liason at LIPA to periodically update local officials on the power status in their town/ village with a ballpark estimate of power restoration. It would definitely eleviate frustration on so many levels. That being said, and again while I applaud the LIPA workers, I believe LIPA in cooperation with villages and towns, needs to take more of a proactive instead of a reactive approach to such emergency situations. Clearly, the infrastructure and dynamics of towns and villages of LI are aging--which means larger and fundamentally more dangerous trees, unaccessible roadways, and a multitude of other factors that come into play in the face of such severe weather conditions. While advising citizens to stock up on batteries and water is fine and good, a more proactive approach is needed to see that power is restored and communication strategies are in place to provide for a much more seamless solution in the face of a weather driven emergency.
George Kirchmann August 31, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Look around Mayor Altadonna: Massapequa Park is not the only community that suffered from Irene. Monday (or Tuesday) morning quarterbacking doesn't become you or any other public official. If you want a better response, from LIPA and anybody else, start praying for a miracle to deliver us from the next storm.
Mary August 31, 2011 at 04:26 PM
The mayor is not the one to blame. LIPA has been shady as can be. The downed tree on New York Avenue that took out the power line caused surge fires on my boyfriend's family's lawn for over TWENTY FOUR HOURS!! if safety is so important why did LIPA REFUSE to shut off the power? FD came three separate times bc of fire and LIPA NEVER SHOWED. It was only after my boyfriend's parents usurer town hall and talked to the mayor that ANYTHING got done. Now the lawn is a crater and the cement is melted. Thank god no one was hurt by the TEN FOOT FLAMES shooting up!!
Mary August 31, 2011 at 04:27 PM
PS I don't blame the LIPA workers for this, I blame the people up top. Clearly their policy was keep power on and first and cross their fingers that no one gets hurt!!

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