Vincent Pina finally saw a couple of utility trucks coming down his street Thursday and started to wave in anticipation. But they just cruised past his house and kept on going.
He hung his head in resignation.
“The thing that gets me the most is that there is no flood damage. I don’t have any branches down. I have no wires down,” said the Long Islander, who put a hand-painted sign out front that read: “Still No Power.”
So why, he wondered, was it taking so long to get electricity?
A week and a half after superstorm Sandy slammed the coast and inflicted tens of billions of dollars in damage, hundreds of thousands of customers in New York and New Jersey still are waiting for the electricity to come back on, and lots of cold and tired people are losing patience. Some are demanding investigations of utilities they say aren’t working fast enough.
An angry New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined the calls for an investigation Thursday, ripping the utilities as unprepared and badly managed.
“Privately, I have used language my daughters couldn’t hear,” he fumed. He added: “It’s unacceptable the longer it goes on because the longer it goes on, people’s suffering is worse.”
The power companies have said they are dealing with damage unprecedented in its scope and doing the best they can. And there is no denying the magnitude of what they have done: At the peak, more than 8.5 million homes and businesses across 21 states lost power. As of Thursday, that was down to about 750,000, almost entirely in New York and New Jersey.
And that’s after a nor’easter overnight knocked out power to more than 200,000 customers in New York and New Jersey, erasing some of the progress made by utility crews.