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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“Governor: LIPA Failed, Was Unprepared”
I think part of the issue with housing is that the hotels are supposedly full. I’ve been hearing from the news stations, and displaced friends, that FEMA and others are housing individuals who lost their homes as far away as Albany because the hotels are full on Long Island and NYC.
We can use schools and other public buildings for housing after hours. Nassau Community college for instance, or Eisenhower aquatic center. There are many public facilities that are feasible for such purposes. My kids school is a shelter, and opens more fully at night for those in need to use shower facilities. We have the resources. We just don’t use them efficiently.
Danfords hotel in Port Jeff was full of workers (I’m assuming from out of state) both nights I stayed there but since I got a same day reservation I’m pretty sure they still have rooms available. I would like to add that I agree that the problem is in planning, organization, and supervision/direction on a management level. The actual workers (out of state and regular LIPA workers) are doing a phenomenal job on the ground.
Good points Michelle and Anna. I don’t think many in the managerial positions have the skills or time to think outside the box, and we are seeing the result of this in so many ways after the storm. There is also so much red tape with using non residential facilities as shelters for long term from what i’ve heard.
Would be interesting to know the role of overly rigid regs in regards to shelter use, as well as the play of union work rules and overly rigid corporate bureaucracy, have to play in this mess. Bureaucracy is the true enemy of humanity, whether it be government or private.
Agreed Michael. That is a large part of the problem and it seems to stem from a body’s need to protect itself and its territory! Fear of lawsuits seems to inhibit good sense and neighborly support!!