Yorktown Calls Con Edison's Response To Sandy Slow

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From left, Suzanne Donnelly, Supervisor of the Town of Ossining, Leo Wiegman, Mayor of the Village of Croton, Supervisor Linda Puglisi of the Town of Cortlandt, and Supervisor Michael Grace, of the Town of Yorktown. Joan Maybury arrived later. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

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.

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Comments (6)

Ecalamia:

Please don't think I am overly critical, but:

"Our experience VISA VIE NYSEG has been nothing but excellent,"

Vis-à-vis is like tête-à-tête face to face or in relation to...

aspencop:

If local leaders, public safety, and utility companies would embrace an incident command system, that integrates all of the above, AND, most importantly; regularly trains in a variety of scenarios, and establish's command post(s) in each of the major town and cities to work out of, these issues would not come up, it's just so much easier to point fingers at each other instead of pre-planning as a team for the benefit of the communities involved. It really is a shame, because where I live know, we've been using the ICS system for natural and manmade incident and it works flawlessly...why you ask, because everybody work together as a team, and they pre plan all the time. Right now our agencies are planning for flood disasters that occur in the spring, and last spring they pre-planned on avalanche incidents, throughout the year they pre-plan for outbreaks of contagious diseases.....some communities walk the talk and are progressive...other communities just talk

joe smith1:

This is interesting. I think to continue to lash out at the workers in the field who apparently are working 24/7 and under difficult conditions is counter productive. I don't think any amount of words is somehow going to actual restore power to those without power. Apparently everyone has forgotten that there was an announcement by Con Ed that the prioritization of restoring power was based on population density and it would be on or about November 10th and 11th. Seems like they are close to that schedule. Mr. Wiegman's comment about addressing critical infrastructure is interesting "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 sounds like it has absolutely nothing to do with Con Ed, but is the responsibility of the various municipalities. Perhaps it is time that some questions be fired off to the local leaders rather than aimed at Con Ed. It would be fascinating to find out though if Con Ed's union workers were not as productive as some of the non-union workers that are apparently in this area. Power will eventually be restored so hang in there. The cost of placing utilities underground is too prohibitive and I believe actually makes finding problems more difficult. Perhaps additional tree trimming should happen.

littleeq1:

The whole situation is ridiculous and personally I think that Briarcliff's call to Con Ed's response to the effect of Sandy is a day late and dollar short. My family (which include 2 small children) has not had electricity or heat, which I might add was especially nice during yesterday's nor'easter. Nothing like a family of 4 sleeping together with 6 blankets to keep them warm. To add insult to injury, we have not even see a crew from Con Ed (or any of the out-of-state crews) make an appearance on our street. Extremely disheartening.

JohnnnyB:

In light of all this - don't we all think it's time to move forward? How about a declaration to put utilities underground whenever streets are going to be re-paved??? There a huge sums of money being spent now, not to mention the human loss and suffering out there, we need to invest - not spend!!!

Aside, how about maintenance of village trees? Obviously this would be less of an issue if power was underground.

bobinny54:

It is time to break up Con Ed and get some new blood (instead of ours) to operate the Hudson Valley area. Time and time again, Con Ed has failed their responsibility to its customers here in Westchester. I am not sure if this is just poor management, a lack of initiative by Con Ed workers in the field or a union issue. Regardless, we in Westchester pay for it. Maybe we should hire the guys Con Ed brings in from out of state because they clearly have a more positive work ethic. They come in and get the job in, Con Ed could learn from them.

Everyone in this county needs to write to the Public Service Commission demanding that Con Eds license be pulled and a new company come in to take over.

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