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Moreland Commission Holds Hearing On SI

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TWC News: Moreland Commission Holds Hearing On SI
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The Moreland Commission, which is investigating the performance of utilities during and after Hurricane Sandy, held a hearing on Staten Island Wednesday evening.

The meeting was originally scheduled for last month but was postponed due to bad weather.

Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the commission to recommend oversight and improvement for utilities in the state.

70 percent of Con Edison customers lost power during Hurricane Sandy. While some had their power back within days, others had to wait weeks.

Some community members voiced their frustration with how the utility companies responded to their needs at Wednesday's hearing.

While the commissioners admitted that the storm was devastating, they said the utilities should have been more prepared.

Speakers also criticized how the utilities communicated with their customers.

"People can deal with a power outage, and they're used to it," said Benjamin Lawsky of the Moreland Commission. "But what they can't deal with is not knowing when the power's ever going to come back on, because they can't plan their lives around it. And when that comes to people with families, it gets that much harder."

Officials said the process for getting the power back was confusing because many homeowners didn't know they needed a licensed electrician to inspect their homes before the power could be turned back on.

"We understand that this was done for safety reasons, but it slowed down the process of re-energizing many homes, including homes that were not damaged and had green tags," said Steve Matteo, chief of staff for Staten Island Councilman James Oddo.

Residents, for the most part, also expressed their disappointment with how long it took for many to get their services restored.

"As someone on the ground talking to Hurricane Sandy survivors every day, all I can think is, 'Should this be happening in America in 2013?'" said Derrick Tabacco of Guyon Rescue. "In my view, the solution comes down to being prepared and having prior knowledge of the areas that are expected to be affected."

Some speakers also offered recommendations on how to prevent similar situations from happening again.

Some suggested installing underground power lines, while others said there should have been more crews in place, considering the storm that was forecasted.

Residents who were unable to make any of the hearings of the Moreland Commission can submit their comments via email at comments@moreland.ny.gov.

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