New York City slowly bounces back from the storm

March 16, 2010 8:52:17 PM PDT
The five boroughs of New York City are slowly recovering from last weekend's storm.Con Edison continues responding to outages caused by the most destructive rain and wind storm to hit the New York area in memory. Hundreds of Con Edison, contractor, and out-of-state utility crews, plus thousands of company support personnel, are working around the clock.

Over 173,000 customers lost power, easily eclipsing the outages caused by Hurricane Gloria in 1985, which affected 110,515 customers.

The company expects to have all storm-related outages in Brooklyn and Queens restored by Wednesday morning, and the Bronx restored by Wednesday evening, followed by Staten Island on Thursday evening, and Westchester County on Friday.

Utilities from Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky and Massachusetts are assisting Con Edison's crews.

Con Edison has additional customer service representatives, electrical and construction crews, along with tree-clearing crews working around the clock to respond to customers and power outages that may occur.

Con Edison will continue to distribute dry ice at five locations in Westchester County and in New York City on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Customer care representatives will also be available to answer any concerns or questions.

The dry ice locations are:

  • New Rochelle, 90 Beaufort Place. (Also a customer van.)
  • Yonkers, Empire City Raceway (Yonkers Raceway) parking lot. (Also a customer van.)
  • White Plains, Saxon Woods Park, 1800 Mamaroneck Avenue. (Also a customer van.)
  • Mount Vernon City Hall, 1 Roosevelt Square.
  • Staten Island Mall, Richmond Avenue, Staten Island. (Also a customer van.)

    For residents picking up dry ice, instructions for safe handling and disposal are printed on the bag containing the ice. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide and should be used only in well-ventilated areas. Keep children and pets safely away.

    Resident are also coping with downed trees and other damage from the storm.

    The sidewalks across Midwood and Marine Park in Brooklyn are covered with trees and power lines. In some cases, there's no sidewalk at all.

    The problem on East 13th between Avenue L and M is that cleanup crews first need to get the trees out of the way before getting any work done.

    So after cutting and yanking away trees, power crews can then put up power lines and repair crews can finally fix torn sidewalks.

    The ferocious storm led to near-record numbers of 911 calls in New York. New York City experienced its second-highest volume of 911 calls ever. It got 65,000 between 11 p.m. Friday and 11 p.m. Saturday, second only to the 96,000 made during the 2003 blackout.

    The storm's fury is still very much evident across the five boroughs.

    In Staten Island, the problem for many is still a lack of electricity.

    A hot wire was sizzling and sparking on the street, while a few feet away a toppled tree was dangling on another wire.

    Potential death threats abound in Staten Island Monday night.

    "It's horrible, everything's been going on fire, the storm is blowing," said one resident.

    "The devastation is unbelievable, I haven't been out since Friday," said another woman.

    Indeed, as the Randazzo's found out, driving into their neighborhood was no easy feat.

    There were countless road closures and detours.

    One van had to be abandoned after getting tangled up in a live wire.

    Crews have been working around the clock.

    There were more than 500 trees down in Staten Island alone.

    It is a long laborious process of cleaning up.

    P.S. 41 just built a brand new $1 million playground, only to see it smashed by two trees that fell across the street.

    "The play area where the children have exercises, and do sit ups and pull ups has been destroyed, as well as part of the jungle gym," said Elise Feldman, P.S. 41 Principal.

    John Santangelo has been blocked in by a fallen giant tree since Saturday.

    "Very dangerous, I can't get in and out, I have to go around through my neighbor's house," said Santangelo.

    In Brooklyn, more downed trees. An estimated 750 came down because of the storm. In Marine Park, they smashed cars and blocked and scared residents as they fell.

    "It was like the trees were going to collide into the living room with my children and my dog. It was frightening," Carmela Lebano said.

    Trees may have taken the worst beating during the weekend storm, and not just those along residential streets.

    City parks were hit hard too.

    Tupper Thomas has been the administrator at Brooklyn's Prospect Park for the past three decades.

    "This is the worst damage that we have ever had in those 30 years. Pretty amazing," Thomas said.

    One near-casualty of the toppling timbers here was the third street playground. Clean-up crews spent a good portion of the morning turning a once mighty oak into wood chips for ground cover.

    Even healthy and tall oak tree was pulled right out of the ground by the roots. Parks officials say it took the perfect storm of factors.

    "The heavy, heavy snow. The ground was really moist, then heavy rain. The wind was unbelievable," Thomas said.

    Frequent park visitor Misha Zabranska was also shocked by the number and size of the downed trees.

    "I heard the wind, but I didn't realize how strong it is. I would never imagine it would pull down such a big tree," Zabranska said.

    The Parks Department says it got a record number of emergency tree condition calls, about 22-hundred, over the weekend.

    Street side trees and those adjacent to public areas get taken care of first.

    A final count on just how many trees were lost throughout the city is still days away.

    In Queens, we found more damage. One store in Howard Beach lost an awning.

    "Blew into the street all over the parking lot. It was just devastating the way we see it blowing around like a toy," Angelos Gurino said.

    But there signs of hope and recovery. A small army of Con Ed workers were on the job replacing damaged wires along 104th Street in Hamilton Beach.


    Customers are urged to call Con Edison immediately to report any outages at 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). Customers can also report power interruptions or service problems at and on their cell phones and PDAs. When reporting an outage, customers should have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power.

    Customers who have already reported their outage need not call Con Edison again. They will be called by Con Edison when their estimated restoration time has been established.

    During the restoration process, primary distribution feeders are restored first, with the highest priority given to restoring lines that supply the most customers. Next, the crews fix secondary facilities, such as transformers and secondary cables, again with highest priority given to lines supplying the greatest number of customers. Individual services, lines serving a single home, will be restored as crews become available. ---

    The New York City Office of Emergency Management is asking New Yorkers affected by this weekend's storm to report damage to their homes and businesses to 311.

    The data will be collected and mapped, and used to direct federal disaster assessment teams scheduled to tour areas affected by the storm.

    The City must meet certain damage thresholds to qualify for FEMA's disaster assistance program. While reporting damage to 311 does not qualify home or business owners for individual assistance, it will provide OEM a more accurate assessment of the impacts of the storm across the five boroughs. Unless the City meets overall damage thresholds that allow individuals and businesses to submit claims for assistance, requests for FEMA support will not be considered by the federal government.

    Information reported to 311 about damage to homes and businesses will not be used for any purpose other than assisting OEM in directing federal disaster assessment teams.

    (**sot Clifton Whilby/Teaneck resident.."It goes to show you, you have to be good to the neighbors..try not to create a surge for him."**)