CORTLANDT, N.Y. — Four town supervisors and one village mayor blasted what they called Con Edison's time-consuming, disorganized efforts to restore power to thousands of Westchester County residents after Hurricane Sandy struck.
"This storm was a monster. There were people who lost life and limb and property, but the people of Westchester are not being served as well as they could," Joan Maybury, supervisor for the Town of Mount Pleasant, said at the meeting Wednesday afternoon at Cortlandt Town Hall.
Together, outages in the officials' towns of Cortlandt, Mount Pleasant, Ossining and Yorktown, and the incorporated villages contained therein of Briarcliff, Buchanan, Croton, Ossining and Pleasantville, accounted for 6,260 outages, more than 2,000 of which were in Cortlandt. Con Edison serves 51,479 customers in the areas mentioned; about 12 percent of the total coverage area was without power.
Estimated dates of power restoration varied as of Wednesday afternoon. Some estimates stretched to Monday, Nov. 12, or 15 days after Hurricane Sandy struck.
Officials pointed to multiple communication problems: between Con Edison's central command and municipal liaisons; between the multiple utilities that have lines on the same utility pole; and between Con Edison and municipal officials.
"How they're being assigned to regenerate areas is a mystery to us," said Maybury.
"We've not relied on the information published by Con Edison," Croton Mayor Leo Wiegman said. Information from Con Edison often conflicted with observable realities on the ground, he said.
Municipal liaisons "had absolutely no pull with central command," said Suzanne Donnelly, supervisor of Ossining.
"My frustration at this point, is there's plenty of preparation that could be done well ahead of time," said Wiegman. He intends to start a "local resiliency program" that would "address critical infrastructure," such as the food and energy supply.
Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi said she intends to send a complaint to the Public Service Commission of New York state, which regulates utilities. "It’s a serious step," Puglisi said.
The difference between the response from Con Edison and NYSEG, both of which service Yorktown, was striking, said Supervisor Michael Grace, of Yorktown.
"Our experience visa vie NYSEG has been nothing but excellent," said Grace. "They actually listened to local concerns."
The nor'easter Wednesday evening presented a "heightened urgency," said Donnelly.
At least two residents attended the news conference. Dena Zhunio, of Hollowbrook Court in Cortlandt, said her neighbor was told that the street shouldn’t expect power back until "late next week."
"It's unbearable," said, Zhunio, a mother of two, saying that her house was very cold and nobody could shower or cook. The gas shortage also impacted her ability to drive anywhere to seek hot showers or food.