Texting didn’t work getting through to LIPA. Neither did the multiple phone calls so Port Jefferson resident Regina Wilcox tried something a little different. She took to Twitter.
“I just started using Twitter on a daily basis, and it has helped me since Hurricane Sandy in finding gas,” Wilcox told Patch in an email. “I just started following LIPA news on Twitter recently.”
Wilcox lives in a small apartment complex called Jefferson Woods located across from Mather Hospital, on North Country Road in Port Jefferson.
“There are three separate units and we have been out if power since 4:30 p.m. October 29th,” she said. “I have been staying at my parents, but I have been checking on my apartment every so often.”
Wilcox said that her complex seemed to be the only buildings in that area of North Country Road without lights, saying that the neighborhood is “pitch black” at night.
“I am fortunate to have somewhere to go with power, but many other residents are still at the complex,” she said. “There are people of all ages there: young, old, families, single business people (like me) and Stony Brook students.”
Frustrated, Wilcox responded to LIPA on Twitter on Nov. 6 after it sent out this tweet:
“Hmmmm... but I am not one of them! Help Jefferson woods in port Jefferson!!!! Turn on the lights!”
That was when Wilcox got her personal response from LIPA.
@regina217 Port Jefferson should expect to be restored in up to another week or more. We know this is frustrating news but crews are working
“I, honestly, did not expect to get a response from LIPA on Twitter,” she said.
From the looks of other responses on Twitter to her good luck, neither did some others.
Jim Starace sent Wilcox a message.
“I cant believe you got LIPA to respond to you. Not 1 of my 10+ tweets have been answered,” he tweeted.
Area residents have expressed their anger at the lack of response that they have gotten from LIPA and many have taken to social media to vent.
In its defense, Donald Daley, business manager at Local 1049 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers wrote a letter to Patch saying that the call center representatives were extremely busy fielding calls.
“It’s been a very long 10 days for the 300 service representatives at LIPA’s Customer Call Center in Melville,” Daley wrote. “If ever there was an example of a 24/7 team effort under very demanding conditions, this is surely it.”
He said that the customer service representatives have been working 16-hour days since Superstorm Sandy hit and have answered over one million calls.
There was no response from LIPA at the time of the writing on this article as to how many Twitter responses it answers about storm-related inquiries.
"I have gotten nothing but complaints," said Mayor Margot Garant about Port Jefferson residents' dealings with LIPA.
She said municipalities are updated twice per day on progress with a conference call but the information is very basic.
"But there is no direct connection to the people," Garant said. "They are frustrated."
Port Jefferson is one of three areas that LIPA said was especially hard hit during the storm. This week, LIPA announced that Port Jefferson and Terryville have 40 major problems to be fixed.
Wilcox said that she goes back to her apartment to check on it every so often but doesn’t like what she sees, or rather, doesn’t see.
“When I went to my apartment tonight it was pretty scary,” she said. “Cold and really dark.”