A majority of Long Islanders responding to a recent public opinion poll ranked the Long Island Power Authority’s performance in the days following Hurricane Sandy as “poor,” according to results released by an upstate New York research group on Monday.
The Siena Research Institute, based in Loudonville, surveyed 822 New Yorkers to gauge their opinions on a host of Hurricane Sandy-related issues. Questions ranged from asking respondents to rate the performance of power companies like LIPA and Con Edison in the days and weeks following the storm, and also in ranking the post-storm responses of President Barack Obama, Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Two-thirds of those surveyed said they believe recent severe storms provide evidence of climate change. Also, half of those interviewed said they donated to storm relief efforts, while a quarter of those responding said they volunteered their time to help storm victims. Nearly one in seven people taking the poll said they suffered storm damage to their own homes, according to the results.
The poll was conducted by telephone from November 26 to 29, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Out of the 822 individuals called, 124 Long Islanders—residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties—were surveyed, according to Steven Greenberg, a pollster with the group.
Out of the total group of 822 New Yorkers hailing from upstate, New York City and the suburbs, 47 percent felt LIPA did a “poor” job; 20 percent said the power company did a “fair” job; 16 percent said the response was “good” and only 4 percent said it was “excellent.” Thirteen percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know or had no opinion.
Sixty percent of Long Islanders responding said LIPA’s response was poor, Mr. Greenberg said. Only 4 percent said it was “excellent.” Twelve percent said it was “good” and 21 percent said it was “fair.”
LIPA has faced a barrage of criticism from elected officials and customers following the storm. Four LIPA leaders stepped down recently—Chairman Howard E. Steinberg; Michael D. Hervey, the authority’s chief operating officer; Bruce Germano, the agency’s vice president for customer service; and X. Cristofer Damianos, a trustee.
LIPA has disputed the criticism. Elizabeth Flagler, a spokeswoman for the agency, pointed out in an email on Monday that the company restored power to most of the more than 1 million customers who were without it before a nor’easter that followed close on the heels of the hurricane knocked out power to another 123,000 houses.
“LIPA disagrees that its performance during both Sandy and the nor’easter was poor,” she stated. “… The damage incurred from the two storms was unprecedented—4,225 poles and 2.25 million feet of wire needed to be replaced. All customers, from both storms, that could receive power were restored by the morning of November 14th. The speed of power restoration of the LIPA system was on par with or better than neighboring utilities considering that Long Island took the brunt of both Sandy and the following nor’easter. Before Sandy, the estimate was 7 to 10 days for restoration and restoration for 90 percent of the customers was on target for that time period before the second storm.”
On the whole, those responding to the survey said political leaders did a good job after the storm. They also rated the responses of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Federal Emergency Management Agency highly.
“New Yorkers are very impressed with the job that Governor Cuomo has done over the last several weeks in dealing with Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath,” Mr. Greenberg said in a press release. “Two-thirds say he’s done an excellent or good job, including 70 percent of city voters and more than half of Republicans. President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg also receive high—though not as high—grades from voters. The same cannot be said for the downstate power companies, particularly LIPA.”