Nearly all utility customers in the New York City area finally got their power restored this week.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that it took two weeks and there are still many suffering people who lost all possessions. The Bellevue and Coney Island hospitals sustained extensive damage and won't be fully running until early next year and at least six schools won't be ready to reopen until the new year.

Taking much criticism in the wake of the massive superstorm that struck the Northeast on Oct. 29 is the Long Island Power Authority, which had to deal with a million of its customers losing power. The poor communication with customers and the length of time people had to go without power prompted the resignation of the company's CEO, Michael Harvey.

After the hard lessons from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, it doesn't seem possible that Americans could again suffer for so long without life's basic necessities.

Since Hurricane Sandy came just before the elections, federal and state politicians made sure they got in their photo ops. As the days and weeks went on, however, the promises of immediate assistance became a hollow promise for thousands of victims.

Communication, from FEMA on down, has been abysmal. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo promised to investigate how utility companies prepared for Sandy and how they fumbled the ball. It's true that New Yorkers have experienced three of the worst natural disasters in city history in recent years, from Hurricane Irene to Tropical Storm Lee to Hurricane Sandy. But instead of growing stronger from each experience, there seems to be a regression to ineptitude.

In the days just after Sandy's devastation, one of the most vocal critics of Cuomo and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro, who, in the wake of reports about residents dumpster-diving for food, stated: "This is America, not a third world nation. We need food, we need clothing."

Like many others, Molinaro was appalled that Mayor Bloomberg even considered running the New York City Marathon, which was to have its staging area on Staten Island. After what was happening on his island, Molinaro said running the race would be "crazy and asinine."

The chaos and destruction Hurricane Sandy created for New York, the greatest city in the world, should raise immediate concerns with every Washington official, from the president on down. Sandy proved that once power is disrupted, every facet of life as we known it is affected ... shelter, food, transportation, banking and commerce.

America's aged electricity system needs to be maintained and upgraded to keep us from becoming the kind of third world nation which Staten Island president Molinaro warns about. Don't think for a minute that America's enemies around the world aren't aware that this nation's power grids, can be its Achilles heal.

It's scary to think that some computer-savvy cyber terrorist could be capable of bringing any "developed" nation to its knees.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com [1]