Numbers of power outages continue to decrease across Long Island with LIPA crews working on restoration efforts out day and night, but there are still two towns in Suffolk in the dark that are troubling LIPA – St. James and Port Jefferson.
For Nassau County, Brookville is LIPA’s main area of concern.
According to Mark Gross, spokesperson for LIPA, the intent is to get power back to 90-percent of its customers by Wednesday and then take the all of the work crews over to the areas hit with the most physical damage.
“There are those areas that have mass devastation, those areas around St. James, those areas around Port Jeff, and those areas around Brookville, that will be longer because there’s so much damage and so many jobs,” Gross said. “What we’ll do is we’ll try to clear the deck on all those other jobs outside of those and then we’re going to take the workforce of 7,000 to 8,000 and be able to just flood those areas.”
Smithtown’s Superintendent of Highways Glenn Jorgensen told Patch Friday afternoon that LIPA had brought in additional workers from Canada, Ohio, Vermont and other places within the U.S. to help with the restoration process, to work with each town to work on town-specific needs.
“The workforce isn’t slim, it’s a workforce to handle a storm, but when you talk about 1 million customers you’re going to need extra resources,” Gross said.
To prepare for storms, Gross said LIPA does year-round “storm-hardening,” a process to prepare its substations for strong winds and hectic storm conditions. Patch reported in October that it would upgrade its Stony Brook substation, and focus on replacing conductors with new high-capacity lines from Old Field Road to Mount Grey Road and Blueberry Ridge Road. The substation powers 1,937 customers in Stony Brook and Old Field.
Gross said it’s hard to tell at this point in the restoration process if the substations held up during Sandy.
“We do storm-hardening all year, we go around and look to make things stronger,” he said. “When you’re looking at wind gusts of 90 miles per hour plus, that’s just an unprecedented storm.”
For those puzzled as to why some towns on LIPA’s outage map have increasing numbers of homes in the dark, seeing the numbers fluctuate is normal.
“Sometimes what they need to do is to work on an outage they need to temporarily sometimes de-energize a larger part so they could work on that outage,” Gross said. “And there’s always new damage, something could happen in the normal course of business – a car could hit a pole or a branch could fall down.”
Gross said there have been very few, minimal injuries to LIPA employees during the restoration process.