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LIPA Substation Dry After Sandy, but Rockaways Could Wait Weeks for Power

By Joe Parziale | November 4, 2012 12:42pm
 A power facility in Far Rockaway is protected by sandbags on Monday October 29th, 2012.
A power facility in Far Rockaway is protected by sandbags on Monday October 29th, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Theodore Parisienne

FAR ROCKAWAY — Long Island Power Authority workers finished draining several feet of water on Friday at a substation that serves the Rockaway peninsula, officials said — the first step in what could be a long outage for the devastated stretch of Queens waterfront.

A LIPA official working at the Far Rockaway site said Monday's hurricane dumped over three feet of water into the station, damaging equipment that now needs to be replaced or repaired before the agency can begin restoring power to homes from Far Rockaway to Breezy Point.

"You're looking at a few days before we can get even this equipment up and running," the official said. "We're just now seeing (the station) dried out for the first time."

The station, which was mostly dry except for a few small puddles, had several pumps running out into the street, and was being serviced by several LIPA workers along with crews from a private contractor and National Grid.

The LIPA official could not offer a timeline for any restorations, but did not rule out that it could take up to a month to get power to all areas.

Residents from Belle Harbor to Far Rockaway, meanwhile, are demanding answers about when they might see light again.

"We were told seven to 10 days," said D'Angelo Scotts, 44, of Rockaway Beach. "You ask now, four days later, and you're told seven to 10 days. I think it's just the default answer until they actually have any idea what they're talking about."

Scotts, like many others crowding the small sidewalk generators provided by the city to charge up phones, said he plans on throwing throwing away his next bill from the Long Island Power Authority.

"What would people be paying for?" asked Allen Rosenberg, 64. "If anything, they should be giving us money for all the spoiled food it's cost us."

Gov. Cuomo, speaking at a press briefing Friday, pressured utilities companies to hasten restoration efforts in the outer boroughs and suburbs rather than focusing solely on Manhattan.

“I grew up in a place called Queens," Cuomo said. "There's a place called Staten Island. There's a place called Westchester. I'm going to remind them every day — maybe twice a day, now that I think about it.”

Some Rockaways residents said the combination of cold homes, lack of adequate hygiene, and increased street crime after dark would be too much to bear for much longer.

"A month?" asked DeShawn Jones, 20, of Far Rockaway when told of the potential wait time. "In a month, this place will be a third-world country."