officials expressed concerns about how LIPA responds in emergency situations after experiencing issues during and after Hurricane Irene.
“Ninety-eight percent of the complaints we received [from residents about LIPA] were about communication and how complaints were received,” Mayor Mark Weiss said at the board of trustees meeting on Thursday.
Nicholas Lizanich, vice president of transmission and distribution operations at LIPA, addressed issues indicated by government officials after the hurricane in August at Hewlett Harbor's board meeting.
Lizanich responded to the mayor’s concerns, noting that while he believes LIPA did a good job, “we have to get better at getting more support to the island. We will learn from this.”
But Weiss, who LIPA at the board's August meeting, said Lizanich was missing the point.
“When dealing with an aggrieved party, saying that you did a great job is not a great way to start,” he said. “I’m here to tell you on behalf of my residents that you did not do a great job.”
To help LIPA learn more about the neighborhood and how to respond better in emergencies, Weiss offered to set up a tour of Hewlett Harbor with LIPA representatives so that problems with emergency planning and the restoration of power can be avoided in the future.
The mayor also expressed his desire to set up a citizens' advisory council so that informed community members can help LIPA when its representatives are in need of assistance. The trustees said they took initiative when the hurricane was coming and prepared themselves with maps and walkie-talkies. Trustees also patrolled the village after the storm to keep track of power outages, damaged power lines and fallen trees.
“In the periods of calm before the storm, there are people who can help," Weiss said.
In addition to working directly with LIPA in emergencies, the trustees will be putting together an emergency management committee. Village resident Dr. Lucy Xenophon, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said she has experience in emergency management and performance improvement and is currently earning a master’s degree at Columbia School of Public Health. Xenophon offered to help with forming an emergency management committee and training volunteers when the time comes.
Weiss said that he is “enthusiastic” about an emergency management committee and Xenophon’s ideas.
Other topics discussed at the meeting:
- A number of village residents expressed concern about the green plant life that is growing on top of Willow Pond.
According to Deputy Mayor Leonard Oppenheimer, an expert visited the pond and confirmed that the growth is not harmful to humans. Treatment will begin in order to remove muck and duckweed.
“Whatever we start now will keep it from getting worse, and hopefully make it better,” Oppenheimer said.
- New street signs may soon be installed in the village. The mayor is considering a revaluation of various intersections and proper signage.
- Dead trees around the village are a matter of public safety and cleanup is being addressed. The trustees are looking into tree replacement and stump removal.