While the 2022 hurricane season hasn’t yet brought the likes of Tropical Storm Isaias or Super Storm Sandy, Long Island has certainly taken some licks so far, and the forecast from local leaders and utility managers suggests we should ramp up preparations for more tricky weather to come.
On Aug. 1, a new law went into effect which aims to “improve storm response efforts by utilities and ensure that problems seen during the failed response to Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020 are not repeated in future emergency response situations,” according to TheIsland360.com.
Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation proposed by state Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblyman Nader J. Sayegh (D-Yonkers), known as S.932a/A.3258, amid increased public concern about response times and support for emergency utility workers.
In a statement, Sen. Kaplan said, “I spoke to so many crews on the ground in the aftermath of the storm who were frustrated by what they saw as a total lack of coordination between other crews and other utilities who were needed on site in order to complete a repair and restore service. By planning ahead, we can ensure a better, more efficient response to the next big storm that hits our Island.”
Meanwhile, LIPA and PSEG seem to be having communication issues of their own (or possibly not), based on a LIPA report and a meeting with PSEG in late July. On July 27, Mark Harrington reported for Newsday that LIPA’s half of the LIPA-PSEG public-private utility partnership is “raising the latest in a series of red flags” regarding PSEG’s computer system for managing power outages; later that day, Harrington also reported that LIPA officials reiterated their concerns that week at a board meeting about testing PSEG’s computer system for managing outages, given that testing of the system using test scripts hasn’t demonstrated full-capacity functionality so far. PSEG responded that the company has “successfully performed and completed all testing [with] industry best-practices” as supervised by LIPA and NYS regulators.
In the month of July, at least two patches of blustery weather gave residents and utility operators of Nassau and Suffolk counties a chance to test their storm-readiness (and, in some cases, to identify or make needed repairs following storm damage).
On July 14, heavy rain and wind swept through much of the New York metropolitan area, causing flooding in numerous parts of Nassau County and Suffolk County, including Syosset and Manhasset, and bringing large hailstones down across central and eastern Long Island. A week later, on July 21, another storm tore through the region, bringing brief flooding and high winds. On both occasions, several thousand Long Islanders experienced disruptions in power, often because of downed lines and seemingly saw their service restored the same day.