More than half of storm-battered New Castle remains without power as Con Edison’s restoration efforts stalled on Wednesday, nine days after Hurricane Sandy plunged tens of thousands of customers into the cold and dark.
In a taped message delivered to the public on Wednesday, County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz said that the number of customers who were still out actually increased from 3,050 on Tuesday to 3,345 a day later. He said Con Edison reported to municipal officials in its daily briefings that the utility needed to bring in more people to reconnect the types of lines that were down, causing a nearly 10 percent increase in outages. The increase was not as a result of Wednesday’s nor’easter that blanketed the area with snow and ushered in high winds.
Con Edison is still aiming to have everyone back on line by the end of the weekend.
“We’re waiting for, frankly, the great bubble, the great progress to come,” said Kaplowitz, the town’s representative on the county Board of Legislators and the chairman of the board’s Environment and Energy Committee. “They still have Sunday night at midnight as full restoration.”
Con Edison had 31 crews and 127 people on the ground in New Castle, many of them from out of state, operating 61 bucket trucks, he said. The 3,345 customer outages represents 51 percent of the town and is close to 10 percent of the remaining 39,000 customers still out in Westchester.
Kaplowitz appealed for patience from residents, while urging them to continue to put pressure on the utility by calling 1-800-75CONED. He said a big part of the problem is that Con Edison is “just not in control on a communication basis, a command-and-control basis. That’s why we’re still out.”
Meanwhile, Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner, whose town was also hard hit with more than 8,000 outages after Hurricane Sandy hit, fired off a letter this week to Jaclyn Brilling, secretary to the Public Service Commission, suggesting improvements that should be incorporated into Con Edison’s future plans. Feiner wrote that crews did not work around the clock and failed to adequately communicate progress reports to municipal officials.
Feiner said in his letter that the PSC must have crews working 24 hours a day to address power outages; use more of their retirees; provide municipalities with a daily accounting of where crews are going to be sent and what streets have been restored; and develop a plan of action and work with local officials about how to deal with the frail elderly and residents with serious medical issues.
In North Castle, another of the most seriously affected towns, Supervisor Howard Arden reported on Wednesday restoration crews were forced to suspend work on Wednesday due to the inclement weather and increasing winds. Arden said that Con Edison’s Friday deadline for full restoration to the town “may be in jeopardy due to the storm.”
Utility crews stop working when wind speeds reach 39 miles per hour to comply with OSHA regulations, according to North Castle Police Sgt. James Cuffe.
The town’s shelter and warming center at the Hergenhan Recreation Center at 40 Maple Ave. in Armonk remained open. Water is available 24 hours a day at the Armonk and Banksville firehouses, in front of the Hergenhan Recreation Center and at Community Park at 205 Business Park Drive in Armonk. Bottled water and read-to-eat meals are available at the Banksville Fire Department located at 33 Bedford Banksville Rd.
The Red Cross is also operating an emergency shelter at the former Reader’s Digest site in Chappaqua. Medical personnel is available there. For further information, please contact Vince Russell at 1-845-825-7395.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/