MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The sound of chainsaws will be the soundtrack of the suburbs for some time to come.
Alex LaTorraca lives on the wrong side of a downed tree and wires blocking his dead-end street in New Rochelle.
“We’re almost prisoners on our block,” he said. “I had to empty out all my refrigerator and my freezer, so that’s all gone, and I can’t get out to go to the supermarket.”
Making matters worse, he asked Con Edison when the wires would be removed, and the company didn’t even know his electricity was out.
“I called them, they said, oh, you’re power’s on. I said, that’s insane, we have transformers down in the middle of the street,” LaTorraca said.
Con Ed says it’s dedicating more resources to clearing roads and putting liaisons in each town to help coordinate clean-up.
“To make sure we’re prioritizing the restoration and the road clearing and wires down that the towns want us to do first,” said Matthew Sniffen, Con Edison’s vice president of emergency preparedness.
Yury Dvorkin is an electrical and engineering professor at NYU. He says most power companies are consistently under-prepared for these storms.
“One of the most important things is to make sure that you have a sufficient amount of portable generator resources that you can deploy in a timely manner,” he told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.
He says better planning is expensive and the companies have little incentive to do better.
“Con Edison essentially says, you’re gonna pay us a fixed amount of money,” Dvorkin said. “This tariff is not associated with any level of service guarantee or service quality that we provide.”
WATCH: CBS2’s Tony Aiello Reports From Mount Vernon —
“We have about 80 locations that are down, so over the next 48 to 72 hours we’ll be working through it to make sure it gets done,” DPW Deputy Commissioner Damani Bush said.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said patience is a virtue, but has its limits.
“We know we have a lot of people with medical conditions, a lot of seniors who require electricity to run breathing machines,” Patterson-Howard said. “We’re gonna apply the pressure, but we’re gonna also do this in partnership with Con Ed.”
The damage across the county is epic. Con Ed said it is the second worst in history.
Video captured the wind ripping scaffolding from an apartment building on Rumsey Road in Yonkers. The metal and wood crashed onto an adjoining parking lot below and on top of a car.
In Bronxville, a large tree landed on the grounds of the Reform Church.
The storm triggered fire bursts on Central Parkway just south of the Cross County in Mount Vernon, after gusty winds took down a transformer.
In New Rochelle, an ugly scar was left behind from fallen wire fire on Palmer Avenue. Many residents recorded videos as the power went out and the sparks and flames flew.
“It was a big explosion. The fire literally moved down the street. The smell was atrocious. The sound was crazy,” one woman said.
Surveillance video from Westport, Conn. vividly illustrates what happened — roots in rain-soaked ground could not hold as winds whipped trees laden with leaves.
Hundreds of them fell. In Mamaroneck, one uprooted the sidewalk, revealing items hidden in the roots, including an old shoe and a bunch of old bottles.
Damage on this scale means disruptive power outages, but also creative approaches.
For Aiello, the storm brought something new. He was at a grocery store with bags of frozen goods. He wasn’t taking them home; he was dropping them off. DeCicco & Sons in Larchmont is allowing shoppers to store frozen goods in their freezer.
With more than 1 million people without power, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering an investigation of the state’s utilities over their response to the storm.
In a statement, the governor said: “The large volume of outages and the utilities’ failure to communicate with customers in real time proves they did not live up to their legal obligations. The fact that many customers still do not know when their power will be restored makes it even more unacceptable. The worst of this situation was avoidable, and it cannot happen again.”