After cutting off ties with Long Island Power Authority headquarters on Friday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Sunday that 99 percent of county residents have power again after being knocked out by Superstorm Sandy more than two weeks ago.
Bellone made the announcement after personally speaking to managers at substations across Suffolk County and said remaining outages are limited to scattered individual homes — which he said will be reconnected in the next few days, as crews canvass neighborhoods and receive calls reporting those homes still without power.
Since blasting LIPA Friday, Bellone has been communicating directly with Suffolk County substation managers and has visited many of those locations to assess the situation and determine available resources, with an eye toward getting power back for residents as soon as possible.
"Despite the massive failure of leadership at LIPA headquarters, we have restored power in Suffolk County, thanks to the dedicated men and women on the ground who have been working 16 to 18 hour days to get the job done," Bellone said. "By working with the front line workers, we have expedited turning the lights on by making sure the resources needed to restore the power remain here in Suffolk
He added, "While I am deeply disappointed in LIPA's leadership, I have been overwhelmed as I have witnessed firsthand the dedication and commitment of the workers in the streets and in the substations as I have met and talked with them over the last several days and I want to thank them for their efforts on behalf of all county residents."
When Bellone began communicating directly with substation managers, who were directing the crews to restore power, more than 30 county employees were dispatched to substations to establish contact and record information about outages and the number of high voltage line crews, tree trimming crews and surveyors at each location.
Bellone also charged LIPA headquarters with ordering substation managers to not provide information to county crews. Suffolk County police officers, Bellone said, were directed to two substations to collect the information.
LIPA spokesman Mark Gross responded Monday morning. "Outage information is available to the County Executive and no request has been refused," he said. "The Executive is welcome at LIPA facilities at any time."
Bellone, as well as Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer and Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, said he broke ties with LIPA after a failed "inspection" process that would have left thousands of customers along the South Shore without power for an indefinite period of time.