100,000 N.Y. Homes, Businesses Face Months Without Power
About 100,000 homes and businesses in New York City and Long Island were so damaged by Hurricane Sandy that restoring power to some of them may take months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
About two-thirds are on Long Island’s south shore, with 36,000 clustered in Staten Island and the Rockaways where the most flooding occurred, Cuomo said yesterday at a news briefing.
“You have some people who have buildings and have homes that you cannot turn on the power until that building or home is repaired or replaced,” Cuomo said. “Those are going to be the most difficult situations.”
Sandy slammed the East Coast with winds of almost 100 miles (161 kilometers) an hour and a tidal surge more than 13 feet (4 meters) above normal. The Oct. 29 storm displaced thousands of people, crippled mass transit, knocked out power to more than 8.5 million customers in 21 states and killed more than 100, including 42 in New York City.
Cuomo said electricity has been restored to 96 percent of the region, although that doesn’t include 100,000 power customers whose properties were so damaged it could be months before service is restored.
About 434,140 homes and businesses, mostly in New York and New Jersey, remained without power as of 2 p.m. local time yesterday, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie, 50, said about 240,000 homes and businesses in the state remained without electricity yesterday. Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG) said today 12,700 customers remain without power from Hurricane Sandy, and another 8,300 who lost service this week from the nor’easter storm. The company said it has replaced at least 2,500 poles, 1,000 transformers and cut down 41,000 trees to repair damage.
FirstEnergy Corp. (FE)’s Jersey Central Power & Light said today 90,000 of its customers in New Jersey are without power, two- thirds of them on the mainland.
Cuomo, a 54-year-old Democrat, has been critical of the utilities, some of which have struggled to get the lights back on in less damaged homes for almost two weeks. Yesterday, he said he’ll be taking a hard look at what caused some utilities to perform worse than others, after the emergency is over.
“I want the utilities to work better and faster,” Cuomo said. “You have people without power for a very long time. It’s gotten cold. It’s uncomfortable. Yes, we’re understanding, but we’re also impatient.”
Utility crews are going building by building in flood- ravaged areas, where the greatest risk was from saltwater damage, Cuomo said.
“If you energize the house, you could actually create a fire, an explosion,” he said.
In New York City, where more than 1 million Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) customers lost power, 16,293 remain without service, the utility said. The number also includes Westchester County, ConEd said. Queens is the hardest-hit borough with about 5,700 without service, followed by Brooklyn with 3,700, the utility said in an update on its website.
Long Island Power Authority has restored power to more than 945,000 customers, the utility said in a statement on its website.
Power has been restored to almost 87 percent of more than 400 public housing buildings knocked out by the storm, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office.
As many as 30,000 people in damaged homes may need temporary housing as cold weather makes their places unlivable, Bloomberg said yesterday.
Fewer than 1,000 New York City homes have been completely ruined, most of them in coastal communities of the Rockaways in Queens and the beaches of Brooklyn, Bloomberg said in his weekly WOR radio show. Another 70,000 to 80,000 homes had some water damage, with flooded basements that in many instances destroyed electrical panels and heating systems, he said.
Starting Nov. 13, those in damaged homes may get expedited repairs paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency using contractors selected by the city who will assign workers by geographic area to cut costs and speed completion, the mayor said. The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
The “NYC Rapid Repair” program, which Bloomberg said is the first in the U.S. for disaster recovery, requires homeowners to obtain a FEMA identification number. The numbers are available through the agency’s website or the city’s, or by calling the city’s 311 telephone information line, the mayor said.
Structures already deemed safe to occupy on streets where electricity is on will be the first served, the mayor said.
“We have to prioritize and the rational way to do it is for those we can get the biggest bang in the shortest time,” Bloomberg told reporters at a City Hall briefing.
Meanwhile, Cuomo said he has created the Empire State Relief Fund to assist New Yorkers whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Sandy. The fund, targeting the hardest-hit areas, will help provide cash for long-term housing and rebuilding, he said.
A gasoline shortage that prompted rationing in New York City and Long Island should improve, Cuomo said.
“The supply chain continues to be repaired, and the supply continues to increase,” he said. The rationing that started yesterday has helped reduce lines.
“The long lines beget long lines as people panic,” he said. “People are now calmer.”
The wait for gasoline was more than two hours at the Hess station on 4th Avenue and Union Street in Brooklyn yesterday, with a line that stretched 12 blocks -- and that was an improvement.
“The line is shorter, trust me,” said Jean Celestine, 52, of Park Slope, as he filled his Toyota sport-utility vehicle. He waited 3 1/2 hours earlier in the week at the same station.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at email@example.com.