As we struggle through the ravages of Killer Hurricane Sandy with downed power lines and still many without power the one message that keeps emerging is how inadequate and downright awful our government agencies perform. To rely on government in an emergency is a false feeling of security because they do a lousy job. Government agencies respond slowly and inefficiently and if it weren’t for the kindness and consideration of our fellow Americans many of those in the flood zones would still be looking for food, water and shelter and many more would have lost their lives.

We have elected officials who spend more time thanking each other, with cameras on steroids, for the great job they are doing while people are suffering and begging for help.

FEMA, provides its usual weak and unprofessional support and actually closed down their operations when the Nor’Easter hit the area on November 7th, just eight days after Hurricane Sandy. Somehow FEMA felt they had the right to close down despite the dire need for help by thousands of people displaced by Sandy. The reason for that action was simple, the cameras were gone and there was no pressure for accountability.

Our Council Member, Elizabeth Crowley, introduced legislation in 2011, after Hurricane Irene, which would require that all our overhead utility wiring be buried underground similar to what we already have in parts of Middle Village and Glendale. The Councilwoman has stated, “The benefit of moving these wires underground outweighs financial cost. Con Edison has a responsibility to make sure that their customers are afforded the most technologically advanced and efficient power supply that other customers with underground wires are accustomed to.”

I had the opportunity to talk to Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley on November 13th, eight days after Hurricane Sandy and I asked her about the status of the utility wiring legislation she introduced in 2011. The Councilwoman stated “this legislation may have a better chance to move forward after Hurricane Sandy because of the high cost of getting all the downed wires back in operation” and she also noted what is obvious, that outdoor utility wiring is very expensive to maintain. Elizabeth Crowley said that she will work hard to move her legislation forward, joining a coalition toward that goal with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The utility company that services our area, Con Edison, contends that installing underground power lines would be an unnecessary and costly upgrade for many neighborhoods. To institute underground power lines, the utility company would have to foot the entire bill, which, they say would total almost $1 million a mile and cost each homeowner in the area up to $10,000 because sidewalks, streets, pavements would have to be torn up and that is a very costly undertaking.

However, after seeing their unprofessional performance in the face of Hurricane Sandy, the worst storm in Con Edison’s history, the utility company is totally unprepared to do its job. Also keep in mind that any expenses incurred by Con Edison with buried wiring would be passed on to all its customers just as they do now when they need money.

So for Con Edison to claim that they will have to foot the bill to bury utility wires is misleading and downright ridiculous. They had no trouble burying wires in Manhattan.
I called Arthur Cronson, who is the Manager of Public Affairs for Con Edison, on November 13, 2012 to talk about Hurricane Sandy and the fact that our utility grid went black so quickly after the storm hit our shores. I backed up my call with a confirming email but I have not received any communication from Arthur Cronson. That too points up how out of touch Con Edison is with its customers.
If we were a foreign country our government would be throwing billions of our tax dollars at us in humanitarian aid. For instance, we currently give approximately $4 billion in foreign aid to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt and, you will recall that Pakistan even gave cover to Osama Bin Laden when the United States was looking to annihilate him from the face of the earth.
It’s long past the time that we keep those kinds of dollars here in the USA so we can at least have our utility grid in the 21st Century! I’m sure everyone has noticed that the USA has not received any humanitarian aid from any foreign country in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and many have offered to help. However it is the policy of the United States not to accept any foreign aid even in the face of a disaster like Hurricane Sandy. Our government also refused foreign aid after Katrina several years ago. How many of you knew that?
It goes without saying but killer super storms like “Sandy” point up how fragile and unprepared the United States really is and trust me, our enemies are watching and observing a vulnerable United States of America in the face of a world toxic with the threat of terrorist attacks. Keep in mind that Iran, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmedinajad, who you will agree doesn’t look and sound like he’s wrapped too tightly, is working feverishly to create a nuclear bomb!

Our goal should be to upgrade our utility grid and bring it to the 21st Century because if we don’t we’re in trouble and more storms like Sandy could very well be in our future. Face it, all the utility companies care about is their bottom line and the safety and comfort of their customers is not on their radar screen. Their sloppy performance in Hurricane Sandy, whose official identity is Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy, has shown that to be the case.