Gov launches probe as thousands left in dark
Gov. Cuomo was hardly blown away by the work of local utilities during Tropical Storm Isaias.
The governor ordered an investigation Wednesday after hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers were left without power one day earlier when the storm rolled through the region. The state Public Service Department will lead the probe into Verizon, PSEG Long Island, Con Edison, Central Hudson Gas& Electric, Orange and Rockland Utilities, and New York State Electric & Gas over their performance.
“The reckless disregard by utility companies to adequately plan for Tropical Storm Isaias left tens of thousands of customers in the dark, literally and figuratively,” the governor said in a news release. “Their performance was un-acceptable.”
Some 287,000 Long Island customers remained in the dark Wednesday as utility workers scrambled to get the lights back on after the departure of storm.
Roughly one in every four customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties were still lacking power despite the efforts of PSEG Long Island in the wake of the storm’s deadly winds and pounding rains a day earlier. The company, in a statement to its 1.1 million customers, said it was working diligently to turn the power back on across the suburbs.
“We’ve restored power to more than 220,000 customers + deployed more than 2,000 crews before the storm began,” said PSEG in a tweet. “Crews were immediately available to start restoration yesterday afternoon. Thank you for your patience as both in-house + contractors crews work around the clock.”
There were still more than 700,000 power outages statewide, including more than 90,000 in Westchester County, 42,000 in Queens and more than 22,000 in the Bronx. Cuomo declared a state of emergency for 11 counties, including the five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester and Rockland, to assist local governments in the poststorm cleanups.
“Con Edison’s been terrible. Not good at all,” groused contractor Mike Tenaglia, 50, of Middle Village, Queens. “A truck was here before, guy said he’s ‘assessing the damage,’ but I don’t see cherry pickers, any of that. They’re just looking at trees.”
Long Island’s state senators echoed Cuomo’s anger over the utility’s performance, sending a letter urging Attorney General Letitia James to investigate PSEG.
“PSEG dropped the ball on tonight’s storm response,” said Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat. “I tried them for myself following desperate constituent calls for help. I now have constituents stuck — amid a pandemic and the summer heat — literally in the dark. This is disgraceful. … Tonight was PSEG’s first major test since they took over running our system — and they unequivocally failed.”
Falling trees wreaked havoc across the region Tuesday, with Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Patrick Foye noting more than 2,000 fell across the sprawling system’s train and bus network.
“This storm caused severe damage,” he said Wednesday. “Not since Superstorm Sandy has our system experienced this type of wind.”
In New Jersey, an estimated 1.3 million homes and businesses were left without electricity before Isaias blew north out of the region. Officials warned some might need to wait days before service could be restored.
Tangled wires and downed branches litter street in Middle Village, Queens, a day after Tropical Storm Isaias whipped through. Hundreds of thousands remained without power across the metro area Wednesday.