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Long Islanders fume over power outages

The Long Island Power Authority said floodwaters that reached breaker boxes complicated its repair work.

Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The Long Island Power Authority said floodwaters that reached breaker boxes complicated its repair work.

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. — Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, most utilities have restored electricity to nearly all customers, but there was one glaring exception Monday: a power company with more outages — almost 60,000 — than all the others combined.

Long Islanders fumed over the cold and the darkness and complained they could not get answers from the Long Island Power Authority.

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The utility said the storm was worse than anyone could have imagined and that it did not just damage outdoor electrical lines; it caused flooding that touched indoor breaker boxes.

Officials also acknowledged an outdated computer system has added to the frustration.

The government-run utility was recently criticized in a withering state report for lax preparation ahead of last year’s Tropical Storm Irene and for the 25-year-old computer system, used to pinpoint outages and update customers.

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to request at least $30 billion in federal aid to rebuild, administration officials said. The money would be used to repair bridges, tunnels, subways and commuter rail lines, and it would help rebuild homes and apartments, reimburse local governments for emergency services, and be used to make loans and grants to businesses.

The money would also be used to upgrade New York City’s gasoline supply capacity and help improve the ability of utilities to find and fix power failures.

New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, on Monday unveiled a $500 million emergency plan to pay for critical repairs to schools and hospitals.

The plan would allocate $200 million for the Department of Education and $300 million for the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation. Bloomberg said the city has already spent $134 million on storm-related emergency relief. City Comptroller John Liu said the city will work to recover these funds from the federal government.

By Monday, Long Island Power had restored electricity to nearly 1.1 million homes and offices. About 46,000 still waiting for the lights to come on are along Long Island’s south shore and on Rockaway Peninsula; they had water damage to electrical panels and wiring, so their service can’t be restored without an inspection and possibly repairs.

The utility expects to restore service to the last 11,000 customers outside flood areas by early Wednesday.

At its peak, the storm knocked out power to 8.5 million customers in 10 states, with New York and New Jersey bearing the brunt.

Consolidated Edison, the chief utility in New York City, has cited problems similar to Long Island’s, saying about 16,300 customers in the flooded areas of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island can’t get service until their internal electrical equipment is repaired, tested, and certified.

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