Queens, New York, the US, during the clean up of Tropical Storm Isaias, August 5 2020. Picture: REUTERS/BRENDAN McDERMID
Queens, New York, the US, during the clean up of Tropical Storm Isaias, August 5 2020. Picture: REUTERS/BRENDAN McDERMID

New York — Some New Yorkers won’t have their power restored until at least Sunday night after Tropical Storm Isaias battered the US East Coast, snapping trees, downing utility poles and leaving millions of homes and businesses in the dark.

“Damage has been extraordinary,” said Matthew Sniffen, Consolidated Edison (ConED) vice-president of emergency preparedness. About 176,000 of the utility’s New York customers remained out of service at 5.15pm on Wednesday, and some may be down until Monday.

While many of the more than 2-million customers from North Carolina to Maine have been restored since the storm swept up the coast on Tuesday, there were still at least 400,000 New Yorkers served by ConEd and others without power on Thursday morning. In New Jersey and Connecticut, more than 1-million remained in the dark.

It’s the second-largest storm-related outage in ConEd’s history, following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. High winds damaged homes and tore limbs from trees as the storm swept up the coast from North Carolina on Tuesday. The outages are hitting at an especially difficult time as millions work from home instead of commuting to office buildings, which often have back-up generators.

Almost 500 roads were blocked by fallen trees, and more than 7,000 wires are down, ConEd said. Avangrid’s United Illuminating, which serves Connecticut, also said outages could last for days.

Delays in restoring power prompted New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut governor Ned Lamont to call for probes of their states’ electric utilities. Cuomo has previously suggested a government takeover of ConEd after power outages last year.

“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,” Cuomo said on Wednesday in a statement. “Their performance was unacceptable.”

Outages affected more than 100,000 in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. In Virginia, Dominion Energy said it restored 80% of the more than 500,000 customers that lost power, and all should get electricity by Friday. Repairs may be complicated because of restrictions on movement related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bloomberg

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