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Sandy: Tempers heated among New Yorkers still in the cold

Last Updated 4:44 p.m. ET

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. Rallies were scheduled on Long Island Saturday for fed-up utility customers to voice their frustration about still being without power nearly two weeks after superstorm Sandy struck, CBS Station WCBS reports.

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Many residents will spend their 13th day in the dark and cold Saturday, and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

All agree that getting power back after the massive storm is a monumental task. But people trying to survive the conditions in Oceanside, L.I., have been asking: Where is the response? Where is the electricity? And where is the Long Island Power Authority?

A man walking his dog in Oceanside Saturday morning was livid. "This is the United States of America," he said. "We should be ashamed."

About 100 protesters gathered outside the Hicksville headquarters of LIPA on Saturday morning, holding signs expressing their fury.

One sign read "Honk for heat." Drivers passing by honked in droves.

Protester John Mangan, of Levittown, told CBS Station WCBS that LIPA should be brought up on criminal charges. He said a neighbor who relies on oxygen and a feeding tube to survive had to be hospitalized because the power has been out for so long.

"Thirteen days to fix a pole? What, are you kidding me?" Mangan said. "Governor Cuomo has to get rid of LIPA. We have to find out if Minnie or Mickey is running that service and have them put the power on for these people. It is a disgrace."

Another rally is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa.

The utility scheduled a news conference for later Saturday to address complaints.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for investigation of the region's utilities, criticizing them as unprepared and badly managed. On Friday, two congressmen from Long Island called for the federal government to help LIPA restore electricity.

"It's a totally disorganized effort, and LIPA unfortunately seems to have lost control of the situation and that's why you see so many people becoming so angry," Rep. Peter King said Saturday.

As of Saturday afternoon, LIPA said it had restored power to just under 1 million of its Long Island customers, but more than 131,000 remain in the dark.

In New York City and neighboring suburban Westchester County, utility Con Edison said it has restored electricity to 98 percent of homes and businesses. About 20,000 of the utility's customers remained powerless, down from a peak of more than 1 million.

In New Jersey, more than 100,000 customers were without power Saturday, most along the coast, utilities said. That was down from 2.7 million at the height of the storm. Most service was expected to be restored by the end of the weekend.

Those figures don't include tens of thousands of homes too damaged to juice up in the hard-hit New York City borough of Staten Island and on New Jersey's barrier islands.

At a Friday press conference intended to convey progress in the restoration effort, more than 500 frustrated residents of Oceanside chanted "LIPA sucks," and said the utility has failed to provide information, give estimates as to when power will be restored, and dispatch workers to the hardest-hit communities.

"We just want help!" one woman sobbed at the protest rally Friday. "We just want help!"

Officials from National Grid defended their performance, even though their partners from LIPA did not show up to a news conference Friday.

"We are progressing very well based on the unprecedented damage from the storm. As far as the system being obsolete, the owner of the system [LIPA] would be in a better situation to answer that question," said John Bruckner of National Grid.

After nearly two weeks of enduring freezing temperatures without heat or light, residents' frustration has erupted into rage.

"Forget about having them come out to help us," one man said. "Fire them. Get rid of them. Let somebody else come in now."

As for when the lights would be back on, authorities said non-flooded homes should be back on line by Tuesday, but they could not say when the rest would be back.

Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., and Peter King, R-N.Y., along with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, have been calling on the federal government to take over LIPA's storm recovery effort.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also expressed rage at New York power companies across the board, though much of his anger was focused at Con Edison.

"To say that I am angry, to say that I am frustrated, disappointed, would be the understatement of the decade," Cuomo said last week.

When asked what kind of recourse he had against the power companies, Cuomo reminded a reporter that they are regulated by a government authority - and can have their operating franchise revoked.

To help victims of Sandy, donations to the American Red Cross can be made by visiting Red Cross disaster relief, or you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.