Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who Cares About an Elderly Woman with a Heart Condition?

NYSEG, doesn't, that's who.  And all those who have elderly parents in the Sandy Zone, or relatives with autism, should take note.

NYSEG is the electric utility that services counties directly to the north of New York City, especially northern Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess.  All of these counties were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.   Power outages are common with storms in this area, with NYSEG known to drag its feet.  Their response time to disasters is legendarily slow.  My mother in law lives in this area.  She has a 50-something son with autism.  I would not be able to calculate how much money my mother has saved the taxpayer with her efforts on behalf of her son.  MIL is an old time woman, sometimes stubborn to a fault, who believes in self-reliance.  She's a two time breast cancer survivor and suffered a stroke several years ago. She also has a problem with her heart.  To maintain her privacy, I will not elaborate further.

MIL, who was staying with family outside of NYSEG's service area (ironically, closer to the storm), knew her power had been out since Monday.  She heard on the news that NYSEG was giving priority in restoration to people with heart conditions.  She called"somebody".  To be fair I am not sure she called NYSEG, as I received this story third hand.

She was told, dear readers, to call the Red Cross.  Not NYSEG's problem, apparently,  No offer to give her street, which is usually one of the last to have power restored, any priority.

A shelter is not an option for her, because of her son with autism.  A shelter would be total sensory overload for him.  I don't know how he would react, but other adults with his conditions have been known to tantrum, which can be perceived by shelter workers unfamiliar with developmental disabilities as violent, dangerous behavior.  So, she will continue to seek shelter with friends/relatives who have had power restored. In a way, she is now homeless.  That is no way to treat an elderly woman. (If you are curious, she was offered shelter up here, 150 miles away, and turned it down.  But it is always an option.  So is a fully automatic generator, but she is a widow on Social Security, and we aren't floating in money, either.)

NYSEG's lack of service is not just my opinion. It is NY Governor Cuomo's opinion, too.  Quoting from a newspaper article provided by AP, "Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday threatened utility companies' rights to operate in the state if they don't immediately put power restoration work into highest gear."  He noted that Con Ed (NYC's utility) is hard at work.  Where was NYSEG?

The government in NY State holds utilities to certain standards of service.  At least they have to TRY.  Apparently, NYSEG was fast asleep - again.

I will get political for a moment.  Sometimes, you NEED government.  Sometimes situations are just too much for local governments to handle.  There are reasons why we as people have chosen the state form of government.  When it works for us, it works.  Curious, after this statement, some power started to be restored in the counties I've mentioned. 

Just coincidence, I'm sure.

My mother in law's neighborhood? They were assessed for power back on today at 11pm. Then it was changed to tomorrow at noon.  Now it is 11 pm tomorrow.  Do I hear Monday? Do I hear Tuesday?

(UPDATE 11-3 at 2:15pm. Estimate of power turnon in my MIL's neighborhood is now November 6-I must have jinxed her. )And, I confirmed she did talk to someone at NYSEG. She called a complaint number,was switched twice, and doesn't know who she talked to.  I am going to follow up.

Shame, Shame, Shame, NYSEG.

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