Let me start this post with the fact that today marks the 11th day that I have been without power in my home, where I also have my office. But, post Sandy reality for me has been more of a major inconvenience than a major hardship.
I say this because I have still have a home; one that is whole, dry and undamaged. And I have dear friends who are housing us AND our dog! My parents home is also in perfect shape and they sit in the middle of a community that has been highly compromised. I was fortunate enough to help them get out of town to warmth and safety, since we had no idea when their town would be ‘reenergized’. (Good Lord, I am getting tired of THAT word)
I consider myself truly blessed.
This post is not about demanding accountability or judging the job LIPA is doing on the ground. I will assume they are doing the best they can. I do not have the knowledge of what their plan IS to make any judgement. THAT is exactly the problem.
I am writing this post in desperation for myself and my community; for those throughout LI who are sucking it up and dealing with their new normal the best they can. I am not saying, ‘plug me in first’, I am only asking to be informed. If the news is grim, we are grown ups, we will deal with it.
Instead, we are left in the virtual dark; the communication to individual communities is non-existent. There are more rumors and speculation than facts. That is way more dangerous than serving up the truth.
How do we explain to Long Island Power Authority – LIPA that they are in the midst of one of the biggest social media fails of the century. Forget the tens of thousands of tree trimmers and linesman. Stop posting those ridiculous charts with number of customers and outage maps that mean nothing to us. Give us a solid line of two-way communication.
Where is their crisis management comm team? There is absolutely no managing of expectations where I live. I have seen @LIPAnews answer questions on twitter, but I have not received a single response to over a dozen tweets and Facebook posts. That poor soul manning their twitter account must be having a nervous collapse trying to keep up. I don’t blame them either.
What they need is a social media STAFF. Call a staffing agency that specialized in trained SM experts including a crisis strategist; I will be happy to give you some names. Set up an individual twitter and facebook account for each set of effected communities. Staff them. Team each group with a field manager who knows the daily updates and give them a direct line of communication to enable them to answer individual questions in realtime. This is not brain surgery, this is crisis management.
I have not seen a single truck in my ‘hood. So therefore people assume we are the forgotten and become angry. I get that there must be a plan. Tell me 3 weeks and I will cope. Tell me Long Beach needs power first to pump out their flooded homes and I will donate a week of juice to help them. (if you know me, I would… just don’t share that with my neighbors). I will even be your evangelist. But tell me nothing and ignore my tweets and you only inflame me.
Sending out an SOS. (fyi, it could be the 12 day sinus infection that is making me crankier)
Photo credit: Amy Zimmerman. Model Release: my deceased apple tree leaning on my neighbor’s house. If you know of a tree guy with some free time, give me a shout.
NOVEMBER 9TH UPDATE:
I will take back my comment about judging whether they were doing the job well or not… it is apparent this is, as Rep. Steve Israel said, ‘a disaster managing a disaster.
In a press conference today, local officials called for the Federal Government to take over the recovery effort from LIPA. Lack of communication with the public was one of the major complaints. A request was made to have a federal plan implemented immediately. Watch the press conference here.