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Still Without Power, Long Islanders Grow Weary

At last count, some 120,000 Long Island households are starting their third week without electricity following Superstorm Sandy. The possibility of spending Thanksgiving in the dark has boiled anger to new heights. Charles Lane from member station WSHU found out.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Some 120,000 Long Island households are starting their third week without electricity following Superstorm Sandy. And the prospect of spending Thanksgiving in the dark has left many residents there fuming. Here's reporter Charles Lane from member WSHU with more.

CHARLES LANE, BYLINE: You want to see anger? Come to Long Island.

BILL PATERAS: My name is Bill Pateras, and I'm disgusted.

LANE: Pateras lives in Bay Park, which is right on the water. He's seen raw sewage flow across his lawn, waited for hours in gas lines, suffered a blizzard and freezing temperatures. All these frustrations weigh on Pateras as he waits in his cold dark house for the power to come on.

PATERAS: They haven't done a damn thing for us down here as far as electric is concerned.

LANE: Pateras recognizes that he's lucky. His house is fine. But his basement was flooded and the local utility company, the Long Island Power Authority or LIPA, didn't know if Pateras' house would catch fire once they energized it. This anger at LIPA is replicated from local politicians all the way up to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Some officials have called for the federal takeover over of LIPA. Others, like Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone, are taking power restoration into their own hands and working directly with utility crews.

STEVE BELLONE: There has been a massive failure of leadership, and we have effectively ceased communicating with LIPA at headquarters.

LANE: LIPA critics have a lot of ammunition right now. Namely, a report from state regulators that says the power company knew of storm response shortcomings back in 2006, but that they have done little to prepare. LIPA does admit that they've done a poor job communicating with customers. But given Sandy's overall size, LIPA's chief operating officer Michael Hervey says that they've actually done a good job.

MICHAEL HERVEY: At the end of the day, this was just a monumental task, 90 percent of our system had customers without power.

LANE: Sandy was twice as big as anything LIPA had planned for, and it caused massive flooding. Safety and liability concerns have caused further delays for people still in the dark. For NPR News, I'm Charles Lane on Long Island. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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