The Long Island Power Authority and National Grid have an army of more than 6,000 working in the field and behind the scenes to restore power, the companies announced at a joint briefing Thursday in Hicksville.
John Bruckner, National Grid's president of Long Island transmission and Distribution, gave an update on the manpower being used to restore Long Island five days after Irene struck.
"LIPA and National Grid are currently employing 1,463 high-voltage linemen, over 900 tree trimmers, and 274 low-voltage workers in their efforts to completely restore power," Bruckner said. "Additional workers will be sent to Long Island from National Grid tomorrow, including an extra 500 high-voltage linemen."
"This isn't just to get the lights back on," Bruckner said of the increased workforce. "We will need those additional resources over the next several days to make permanent repairs on the system. They're energized and they're safe, but they’re not up to the standards LIPA has for their distribution systems."
According to revised figures released by LIPA Thursday, 764,000 people have been affected by power outages on Long Island. LIPA is sticking with its previous estimate of having 95 percent of affected customers restored to power by Friday of this week.
"We continue to make very good progress on your restoration efforts," Bruckner said. "Having witnessed first-hand what out men and women are doing out there, I'm extremely proud of how hard they're working."
LIPA CEO Michael Hervey said that the remaining customers affected by power outages need to keep the lines of communication open with LIPA.
"We're at the point in our restoration where if your neighbors have power, and you think you're the only one on your block that does not have power, go ahead and give us a call back," Hervey said. "It doesn't hurt to report your outage a second time...if we've restored your neighbors, there may be some additional work we need to do at your house."
Hervey pointed out LIPA's customer service phone number, 1-800-490-0075, and said that customers should no longer just get a basic automated response when using it.
"We're starting the phase over to our normal messaging," he said. "Normally, our customers can get a great many details about the status of other outage. We've said sine Monday that, in the triage mode that we were in, that customers would have that full capability, but many of them as of today will be back to getting a full set of information."
Bruckner gave an overview of the focus of power restoration, stage by stage.
"Hospitals, nursing homes and colleges have been restored," Bruckner said. "Now we're shifting our focus more on the Long Island Rail Road and public safety issues around traffic lights and so forth."
"Another issue that continues to come to light is our focus on the schools," Bruckner continued. "We want to make sure that they're prepared for opening...we don't want to interfere with the start of their school year. So, a lot of our efforts will concentrate on the school districts in both Nassau and Suffolk counties."