Thousands Without Power in Area as Officials Await Utility Crews

Local officials revealed Saturday that restoration of power to thousands of area residents who were left in the dark by Friday’s powerful Nor’easter will begin Sunday at the earliest.

Municipalities opened warming centers on Saturday to provide residents who were stuck with no electricity or heat a warm place to go and charge their cell phones. As of late Saturday, more than 1,200 customers in Mount Kisco were without power, there were 2,400 in North Castle, which represented a little more than half the households, and nearly 3,000 in New Castle, about 43 percent of the town.

While residents in northern Westchester appeared to take the brunt of the storm, few were spared. An estimated 61,000 customers were without power on Saturday throughout Con Edison’s Westchester territory, according to the utility.

“All of Westchester was hit,” County Executive George Latimer said. “It was severe, at some level, in every place and there are power outages across the county.”

Local highway and public works personnel needed to clear roads blocked with trees to allow Con Edison crews to address fallen power lines. North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro said he was told that Saturday was a day for clearing roads while awaiting sufficient Con Edison crews and reinforcements from out of town utilities to arrive.

“Con Ed has notified us that today (Saturday) there will be no restoration, just road clearing and making them safe, and the plan is starting on restoration of power (on Sunday) but that would mean they’re getting all the tree clearing and line clearing done,” Schiliro said.

In addition to numerous streets being blocked, portions of Routes 22 and 128 had detours, he said.

The town opened Hergenhan Recreation Center on Maple Avenue in Armonk as a warming center. The North Castle Public Library on Whippoorwill Road East was forced to close, but the North White Plains branch remained open until 6:30 p.m. to accommodate residents. A decision was pending on whether to keep the recreation center open overnight as an emergency shelter, Schiliro said.

In New Castle, officials opened the community center on Senter Street not only as a warming center but for people to stay overnight, if needed, said Supervisor Robert Greenstein. A limited number of cots were also available. Town Hall was opened on Saturday and there were extended hours at the Chappaqua Public Library. The library will be open from 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Greenstein confirmed that restoration will begin on Sunday at the earliest. He said the priority is to get all major routes cleared and make sure that all Chappaqua schools have power on Monday so there is a full day of school. On Saturday, Westorchard and Grafflin elementary schools were without electricity, Greenstein said.

“It’s a lot of people (without power) and we have no crews here restoring it,” Greenstein said. “We are trying to do our part with the communication but we need more Con Ed crews. I’ve spoken to Gov. Cuomo’s office. Every single person is experiencing frustration with Con Edison.”

A late afternoon advisory from the town warned residents that restoration “will be accomplished over many days – through next week at a minimum.”

The Chappaqua School District will open Horace Greeley High School from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday for residents who want to take showers.

As of early Saturday evening, there continued to be closures on Routes 117 and 120.

In Mount Kisco, Mayor Gina Picinich said 1,218 out of 5,075 customers remained without power into Saturday evening. After reaching out to community groups, she said there did not appear to be a need to open an overnight shelter.

The only road closure in the village is Croton Avenue between Emery Street and the Saw Mill Parkway. Earlier in the day a portion of Lexington Avenue that had been closed was reopened.

Picinich said the village’s DPW worked to clear streets and parking lots of snow and debris and did as much clean up as possible, although it must wait until Con Ed crews arrive to address the areas where wires are entangled with trees.

“The village was left really to our own devices,” she said.

On Sunday, the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester will be open from 12 to 6 p.m. for residents to take showers and the Mount Kisco Public Library will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for charging mobile devices and to give the public a place to go.

In Pleasantville, the village put out an advisory on Saturday informing the public of five ongoing road closures: Church Street from Broadway to the Mount Pleasant line; Lake Street from Broadway to Mount Pleasant; Pierce Drive from the lower end by Washington Avenue, although it is mostly accessible from Bedford Road; Great Oak Lane between Eastview and Grandview; and Greenmeadow Road at the intersection of Church Street.

While residents are being allowed to reach their homes on closed roads, they do so at their own risk. Pleasantville police advised against any travel on Lake Street.

Although there was frustration with Con Edison, Latimer on Saturday blasted New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG), which services portions of the northern part of the county. He said on Friday and into Saturday the utility stopped responding to officials’ inquiries.

“The people of Westchester, who pay NYSEG to provide them with a service, have a right to know what NYSEG is doing to restore their power,” Latimer said. “While worker safety is a priority, NYSEG’s response has been deplorable. There should be constant communication in a storm – and that did not occur.”

County Legislator Kitley Covill (D-Katonah), who appeared on Saturday morning at a community forum with Latimer at the Mount Kisco Public Library, said residents in her district in the northeastern part of the county are used to being hard hit in major storms, but it doesn’t make it easier.

“What we’re talking about right now is this is going to be a little bit of a long haul, it’s going to be cold tonight, so we’re going to try to open some warming stations in each of the towns so people have a place to go for the evening,” she said.