By Scott DiSavino
(Reuters) - The New York State-owned Long Island Power Authority said Monday it expects to restore power to most of those able to receive service by the end of Tuesday.
Some 56,000 homes and businesses remained without service Monday afternoon, two weeks after Hurricane Sandy battered the region.
Of the 56,000 still out, LIPA said about 13,000 were in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on New York's Long Island, outside the area flooded by Sandy.
In the flood zone, however, LIPA said up to 17,500 customers in Nassau and Suffolk and 29,000 in the Rockaways in New York City were unable to receive power safely. That is because severe flooding may have damaged electrical panels, wires, outlets and appliances, making it unsafe to restore service.
LIPA said it would restore power to the flood zone homes and businesses after the customers hire licensed electricians to repair the water damage and produce an electrical inspection certificate.
Other hard-hit utilities in the area -- Consolidated Edison Inc in New York and units of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc and FirstEnergy Corp in New Jersey -- restored service to almost all customers over the weekend.
But Sandy hit LIPA harder than any other power company, knocking out more than 1 million of its 1.1 million customers, while a nor'easter storm last week knocked out 123,000 more customers - thousands of whom had had power restored after Sandy.
Combined, Sandy and the nor'easter knocked out more homes and businesses on Long Island than LIPA has customers.
Despite the hard hit, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has attacked all of the affected New York power companies -- especially LIPA -- for the slow pace of restoration.
Once restoration is complete, LIPA said customers would continue to see a large number of line and tree crews over the coming weeks making permanent and temporary repairs.
Sandy left about 8.5 million electric customers without service in 21 states after hitting the New Jersey coast on October 29.
(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and Dan Grebler)
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