Tens of thousands of additional LIPA customers lost power in Wednesday's nor'easter that further crippled Long Island in the brutal aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
LIPA officials told the Associated Press that a total of 123,000 customers lost power at some time during the most recent storm but many have been restored.
Still, more than 260,000 LIPA customers remain without power on Thursday, the day many of these residents living in darkened, frigid homes received their electrical bill in the mail. Unofficial estimates say full power won't be achieved until sometime next week.
Outraged public officials and irate citizens are demanding answers and getting few specifics. LIPA spokesman have not responded to repeated requests from Patch for specific updates.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo LIPA and other power utilities "archaic" and "unprepared" for the Sandy and the subsequent nor'easter.
"The management has failed the consumers," Cuomo said. "This is what they get paid to do. We paid them and we gave them a franchise because they represented themselves at experts at doing this," Cuomo said.
An official with the union representing LIPAs electrical workers said this storm is "the worst I've seen since (Hurricane) Gloria," and 8,000 lineman and tree cutters are working 16-hour shifts to respond to the Island-wide crisis.
Nassau County alone has 140,000 customers without power, including 71,000 in the town of Hempstead. North Hempstead has nearly 38,000 customers in the dark. In Oyster Bay, the figure is more than 32,000, LIPA's website reports. It is estimated those "customer" figures represent more than a quarter of a million people without power.
Many are now describing the extended outages as a public health crisis.
"My heart breaks for all of my neighbors," said Plainview's Rebecca Alesia, an Oyster Bay Town Board member, who described the situation now as a crisis. "My office's last communication with LIPA involved them telling my staff not to call any more unless it was a life-threatening emergency."
"It is time for a demonstration at a LIPA office-or at Cuomo's local office," said Debbie Gershow-Lindell of hard-hit Plainview-Old Bethpage, where more than 5,000 customers are now without power. That number grew by about 1,000 in the aftermath of the nor'easter. "Bring pictures of your children and grandparents so they can see who is freezing. Bring sleeping bags and refuse to leave until everything is fixed."
Nassau County Legis. Judy Jacobs, D-Woodbury, has been inundated with calls from irate constituents who can't get any answers from LIPA.
"I'm furious with them for their lack of communications with our residents," said Jacobs, who has been living in a motel since the power went out last week. "I've called their offices two and three times a day and all they can say is 'they're working on it. What makes me furious is that they are telling people one thing and giving them false hope. This is ridiculous."
Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said the town "has done and will continue to do everything in its power to make this situation better for its residents."
The town, which has involved in clean-up efforts, is continuously relaying information from residents to LIPA, he said.
LIPA originally estimated that it would take until Sunday to have full restoration to the system, not including the flood-ravaged areas of the South Shore and the Rockaways.
That assessment is no longer valid. Readers have reported LIPA customer service people are saying power won't be restored to specific neighborhoods until Monday. LIPA has not identified a new date for restoration.
Patrick Guidice, senior business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, which represents LIPA, acknowledged communication difficulties but said the utility has been hampered by the severity of the storm and now the nor'easter.
"This is an uphill battle," said Guidice, who said this storm was the worst he's ever since in a 30-year career. "These are difficult times, but we will not stop until it's done.
"We are Long Islanders, too," he said.