NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — There is outrage on Long Island where more than 1 million people were left without power as Tropical Storm Isaias rolled through the area, bringing down trees and power lines.
More than 400,000 PSEG Long Island customers lost power at the height of the storm. The hardest hit areas were in Hempstead, Levittown and Westbury.
The outages are just part of the problem. Many customers have been frustrated because they have been having issues contacting the utility either by text, by phone or on their website to report outages.
"It’s completely unacceptable that so many residents are still without power and can’t get in contact with @PSEGLI 12 hours after a storm we all knew was coming," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran tweeted Wednesday morning. "Our crews have worked all night to clear debris and downed trees, but many residents are still waiting for answers from PSEG. My office will continue to demand answers for residents still in the dark, who deserve nothing less."
Resident Damon Chisholm went to the PSEG Long Island call center in Melville to complain about the lack of communication only to find the facility closed because of COVID-19.
He tells WCBS 880's Sophia Hall that a tree fell on his property, taking wires with it, and they are about to fall into his swimming pool.
"I've been trying three different nubmers calling them and I have not gotten through at all," Chisholm said.
Six state senators are calling on the attorney general to investigate the communication problems with the utility, which took over for the Long Island Power Authority following its failures in the response to Superstorm Sandy.
"The fact that we're not prepared, we're not ready for these storms, it's got to change," State Sen. John Brooks said. "The day before the storm PSEG was sending out all kinds of emails saying, 'We're ready.' Nonsense, you weren't ready at all and you failed."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the Department of Public Service to launch an investigation into Verizon, PSEG Long Island, Con Edison, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Orange and Rockland Utilities, and New York State Electric & Gas "to understand how such a failure could have taken place."
PSEG Long Island spokesperson Elizabeth Flagler told WCBS 880 that the utility worked through the night to address the communication issues.
"We're still pressure testing the issues to ensure that customers can reach us today. I do want to assure customers that we are aware of their outages and are dispatching crews to go out and survey and assess the damage and being the repairs," Flagler said. "Part of the upgrades that we did on the system actually report outages to us without a customer calling in so we do have an idea of where the otuages are and we are addressing them as soon as we can."
Flagler said outages can be reported on social media and the phone system is up and running so customers can try calling in.
PSEG says it had additional crews ready to work since Monday, but the high winds forced them to stand down until the storm passed.
"Once it was safe our crews got out and they were assessing and restoring power and looking for the damage to try to get a bettter idea of what we have to deal with and help to create a better estimation of restoration time," Flagler said.
By 11 a.m. Wednesday, power had been restored to more than 220,000 customers, but it could be days before everyone is back up and running.
Curran shared an image on social media showing an estimated restoration date of Sept. 3 for some customers in Nassau County. "Unacceptable is an understatement," she tweeted.
Flagler vowed the utility will work 24/7 until all power is restored.
PSEG Long Island has opened four customer outreach centers where they will be handing out free water and ice.
They are located at:
Cantiague Park - 480 W John St, Hicksville, NYOpen 12pm - 6pm
Hockey Rink Wantagh Administration Building - 1 King Rd, Wantagh, NYOpen 12pm - 6pm
Community RoomNorth Woodmere Park - 750 Hungry Harbor Rd, Valley Stream, NYOpen 12pm -6pm