After 8 Long, Cold Days, The Utilities' Progress Is Not What Many Expected

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tuesday was day eight for many living without power. Those lucky enough to have generators used them sparingly while others were boiling water to try and stay warm.

There were nearly 1 million Tri-State Area residents sitting in the dark on Tuesday. And the consensus among the masses is, after more than a week of this, someone definitely dropped the ball.

As of 6 p.m., PSE&G reported 227,000 customers without power. The utility company had restored more than 80 percent of its outages.

JCP&L had more than 240,000 customers still impacted by Sandy.

LIPA had 193,000 reported outages, but homes in the Rockaways, Long Beach and Fire Island were not included in the outage numbers.

For Con Ed, it was possible power wouldn’t be restored to its customers until the following week. As of 6 p.m., there were 106,000 without power.

Orange and Rockland utilities had 24,000. NYSEG reported more than 8,700 customers without power. Connecticut Light & Power reported a little more than 3,600 outages.

In Howard Beach, the street lights weren’t working so traffic cops were, and so were the power crews, trying to bring the electricity and the closed businesses, churches, and schools that depend on it back to life, CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported.

In the neighborhoods, where possessions were tossed along the curb piled up in dumpsters, there was a familiar sound.

“We’re very cold,” resident Marsena Drzewicki said.

Like so many, Drzewicki was without electricity. Adding to her discomfort was the fact she has three children and two nephews to try and keep warm.

“It’s very hard to see them. It’s very painful and like when they watch them, tears come up,” Drzewicki said.

Some of the kids wore blankets, while others donned double socks and sweaters.

“It’s kind of hard because most of my stuff has been flooded in the water and is now all wet and destroyed,” Martyna Drzewicki said.

Michele Ramos lives on the Lower East Side, which saw power restored last Friday but her building was still in the dark on Tuesday.

“I need some power, please help us,” Ramos said.

Crews were pumping out the basement where water destroyed the electrical panel. Until the power returns, two children were staying elsewhere while Ramos boiled water to keep herself and her grandmother warm.

“It’s just been dark and wet and gloomy and kind of scary,” Ramos said.

Seniors like Irma Bermudez were also in a world of hurt with no working elevator.

“I am on the 23rd floor and being without power and without any water has created a hazard going up and down,” Bermudez said.

Back at the Drzewickis, the generator was used only when it got really cold, which was starting Tuesday.

“It’s very stressful,” Marsena Drzewicki said.

Power crews said some people in Howard Beach would have power back very soon; the rest they hoped within the week. They were not alone in that hope.

PSE&G Catches The Wrath Of Customers

Jeff Goldstein of Fairlawn, N.J., said he can’t even celebrate a PSE&G crew finally on his block. It’s been more than a week since he and his neighbors lost power, eight days of calling the utility complaining about a maze of downed live wires, eight days he said of no response.

“Oh, I’m angry. No guarantees, no promises, no predictions and no help,” Goldstein said.

“They just give no communication whatsoever on a time frame, on what we can do,” a neighbor added.

While this crew got to work, so did CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis, heading straight into PSE&G headquarters in Newark, down to the basement command center for an exclusive look at where the restoration plans being were made.

Dennis cornered the restoration service manager, Mark Kahrer, front and center.

Dennis: “We’re with families today who still have no power. What do you say to those people?”

Kahrer: “We’re all frustrated. Unfortunately, the storm was very, very large.”

He showed Dennis this targeted list of work being done in Roselle, N.J., the coordination effort with the Red Cross, and the threatening radar showing the pending Nor’easter.

But on camera, he could only give a loose Friday deadline of when everyone’s power will be back on — with exceptions.

“If you’re an isolated incident on a block, we apologize, we ask your patience, forgiveness,” Kahrer said.

As for PSE&G’s apologies, Fairlawn residents said they didn’t want to hear it.

“It doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t take away the eight days, not to be able to get to work, not to have food, get out of the house and have heat,” a woman said.

That frustration was echoed by Gov. Chris Christie, who said Tuesday he had had just about enough of the utility’s slow response.

“My patience is starting to wear thin. If PSE&G doesn’t get their act together, they will have ‘Hurricane Christie’ swooping in soon.

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