Con Ed: Outages From Last Week's Storm Fifth Largest In Utility's History

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Tens of thousands of customers are still without power Monday in New York and New Jersey, days after last week’s nor’easter slammed the Tri-State Area.

As of 10 p.m. Monday, more than 33,500 Con Edison and 15,200 NYSEG customers were without power in Westchester County alone.

“We are outraged at Con Ed and New York State Electric and Gas’s slow response,” Westchester County Director of Operations Joan McDonald said at a news conference Monday evening.

“The response from NYSEG specifically has been abominable,” said Westchester County Deputy Executive Ken Jenkins.

McDonald and Jenkins said they have called on the New York State Public Service Commission to investigate the NYSEG response to the storm.

“When we put out the estimated time to return power, those are the times put out by the utilities,” McDonald said, adding that when those times are inaccurate, it creates credibility problems.

The County Executive is asking for residents with power to offer a hot meal and shower to friends, family and neighbors that are without power.

Westchester County Center was opened for warming and charging devices from 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. It was also going to be reopened Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. with movies for children.

“Many of our municipalities, as we know, are extremely frustrated with the pace of repairs to restore electrical service to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure,” McDonald said at an earlier news conference.

Con Ed spokesperson Michael Clendenin said 132,000 customers lost power during the storm, the fifth largest outage in the utility’s history.

“We know this has tested people’s patience, but it is a major storm,” he said. “We are restoring people as quickly as we can.”

Con Ed said it expects outages “to diminish significantly” Monday as utility workers “string up key connections amid cleanup.”

“The company expects to complete restoration to the vast majority in Westchester by late Tuesday night,” Con Ed said in a statement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo deployed an additional 100 members of the New York National Guard to assist recovery efforts as he declared a state of emergency in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Sullivan counties.

“It’s very frustrating,” said café owner Gail Wollins, who was waiting for free dry ice from Con Ed. “No answers and, by the way, we’re looking at the dry ice here which hasn’t arrived. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Clendenin said a request for 1,000 mutual aid workers was made between Thursday and Saturday and so far 400 from as far away as Canada and Wisconsin have come to help.

“We think we’ve done everything that we could to prepare for this storm,” Clendenin said. “Storms like this take days to recover from, not hours.”

But local elected officials, including Westchester County Executive George Latimer, have been critical. On Sunday, Latimer said the two utility companies “were not prepared for this.”

“If you know in advance and planned in advance, then you staff your organization with that thought in mind and it’s all hands on deck
 and you send requests for mutual aid out sooner,” he said.

Monday was to be the fourth night Jeff Rosenthal lived by candlelight. He told CBS2’s Tony Aiello he was getting tired of ordering takeout food and getting the runaround from Con Edison.

“They say your power will be restored by 11pm Tuesday, then I get another call saying you won’t get your power restored until 11pm Thursday,” he said.

At one point the utility company called his cell to say power was restored — it was not. His Blair Road neighborhood was cut off from the world with two huge trees downing wires and closing the only street in or out. At night, it’s a perilous trek with flashlights guiding the way under branches and wires.

“It’s surreal actually,” Stefan Mykytiuk of Armonk said. “We’ve been joking that it’s the apocalypse, like ‘The Walking Dead’ or something.”

In Putnam County, more than 17,800 NYSEG customers were still in the dark late Monday afternoon.

The utility said it expects to have 90 percent of its customers throughout Westchester, Putnam, Delaware, Dutchess, Sullivan and Ulster counties restored by Tuesday night.

“We recognize the inconvenience this delay will cause and appreciate our customers’ patience as we continue to do everything we can to restore power as quickly as possible,” the company’s president and CEO, Carl Taylor, said in a statement.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, about 69,000 customers were without power Monday afternoon.

Hundreds of crews continued to work Monday to clear trees and repair power lines. JCP&L says it hopes to have the majority of users back up and running by Tuesday, and a small pocket in Sussex and Morris Counties should return by Wednesday.

Most of the affected customers are in northern New Jersey.

More rain and snow is expected Tuesday night through Wednesday, when another nor’easter could hit the region. Forecasters have said the potential storm’s track remains uncertain.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)