Two days after storm, 8,000 still without power

Two days after Israel’s first winter storm of the year walloped central Israel, 8,000 families remain without power.

Israel Electric Company (IEC) workers operated overnight to return power to areas most affected by the storm, including Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Netanya, and smaller towns in the Sharon region.

Both residents and the mayors of affected towns have flooded the media with their accounts of the chaos. Walla! News reported late Monday night that the outage had left the elderly and handicapped most at-risk.

The mayors of the Sharon region told Maariv on Tuesday morning that, despite the area being declared as being in a state of emergency, IEC workers had been very slow in repairing the damage. The problem, they claim, is a lack of sufficient manpower.

“How is it, in 2015, that the electricity company, in 2015, cannot provide electricity?” Zev Bielski, mayor of Ra’anana, asked the daily. “Each year the IEC prunes the trees under power lines, and only they can do it. This year they did not even issue a tender for it – so why are we surprised that now the trees have brought the system down?”

While thousands of Israelis remain without electricity, the work has still improved the situation overall; as of noon Monday, some 24,000 households remained without power – a number that topped 50,000 during the height of the storm.

Drama unfolded Sunday night and Monday between the IEC and unions representing electricity workers, as the IEC blamed its workers for dragging their feet in restoring power when thousands of Israelis called to complain.

IEC management petitioned the National Labor Court Sunday night, demanding that workers be forced to take on emergency schedules throughout the night until all power was restored. The court complied, but consumers complained Monday that it appeared that not all workers were respecting the decision.

MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union), chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, said he would demand an investigation.