by Michelle Sicignano, LMSW, SJS Staff Writer
I have been informed that out of town work crews all over Long Island have been housed in public parks, such as Sunken Meadow, and Bethpage, in large open spaces, often near water, where it is preferable for them to sleep in their trucks because the tents supplied offer no protection from the weather. Additionally, they have received quiet poor direction from LIPA, are not allowed to work over time, and must have a LIPA manager on site before any work can be preformed. They do say the compensation itself is fair, but the management has been extremely poor and inefficient, and with no stipends toward, or alternative provisions for adequate housing, such as utilizing schools at night perhaps, the work situation is untenable for any length of time. The mismanagement and disorganization seems to be equally attributable to LIPA and the County Offices of Emergency Management. This should be rectified now if possible, but certainly must be addressed for future emergencies. We have been given a wake-up call, and must improve practices going forward. The crews I spoke to didn’t want to be named, for obvious reasons, and were from Massachusetts and South Carolina and Texas, working in freezing weather, under very difficult conditions. For these, and all people working diligently to restore power and normalcy where possible, I say thank you. To Nassau and Suffolk County Executives and Offices of Emergency Management, I say, a solution is feasible, including busing workers from suitable housing to where their work vehicles are stored. Can we make it happen?
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