More Than 1.5 Million Still Without Power Across Tri-State After Isaias

WCBS 880 Newsroom
August 06, 2020 - 5:18 pm
Power outages Isaias

Amy Newman/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Over 1.5 million customers remained without power in the Tri-State on Thursday morning, two days after Tropical Storm Isaias slammed the area with high winds and rain.

Thursday's total outages were down from about 2.5 million across the Tri-State that were reported in the wake of the storm.

As of 6 a.m., there were 276,379 PSEG customers impacted on Long Island, including 117,401 customers in Nassau and 156,276 in Suffolk.

In New Jersey, there were 144,988 PSE&G customers and 358,660 JCP&L customers in the dark.

Con Edison reported 148,844 without power, with the most outages—78,484—in Westchester. There were about 70,000 outages in New York City; Queens had the most at 36,216.

The utility Orange & Rockland had another 85,397 without power in the Hudson Valley.

Meanwhile in Connecticut, Eversource reported 543,183 outages, while United Illuminating had 80,273 outages.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York City and surrounding areas and ordered a probe of utility companies.

Cuomo blasted utility companies as having shown “reckless disregard” for storm planning and directed a state regulator to investigate their preparation and response.

“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 in announcing the Public Service Department’s probe.

Cuomo’s emergency declaration applies to New York City and Long Island, as well as Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam, Columbia, Ulster and Sullivan counties, and enables the state to better aid in clean-up efforts.

A frustrated Cuomo on Thursday said the state has had to call in thousands of emergency workers to supplement the overwhelmed utility crews.

"We've called out National Guard and we're doing everything we can with 7,000 employees which is a significant contribution from the state, but I shouldn't be doing this, this is not about emergency workers every time there's a storm," Cuomo said as he took a hard line with the utilities. "It's not a sunny day business, it's an every day business and if it's only for sunny days then we should pay them less and let's have a caveat that if there's a storm you may not have power and you may not have power for several day. Okay, then reduce my bill."

Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the damage there rivals Sandy, with 10 major transmission lines down.

"We’re focusing on resources, focusing on ensuring O&R gets the job done. We’ll look at other things later on, but right now we have a goal and that’s to get the people back online so they have power again," Day said.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer says he is not getting angry yet, but he sympathizes with Con Ed and NYSEG customers left in the dark both literally and figuratively.

"We don't know everybody will be back by next Tuesday. That's not an intelligent acceptable answer," Latimer said, adding there has to be more information from the utilities. "If people can have some sense of reliable information about when power is going to be restored they can make rational decisions."

PSEG on hard-hit Long Island said Isaias was one of the strongest storms it has seen in recent years and that crews were working around the clock to restore power.

Con Edison said Isaias knocked more of its customers offline than any other storm except Sandy. Officials said more than 7,000 power lines were knocked down in the five boroughs.

Con Edison spokesman Philip O'Brien told WCBS 880 on Wednesday that crews had restored more than 160,000 customers.

“That is more than half of the approximately 300,000 customers who lost service,” O'Brien said.

In New Jersey, Joseph Fiordaliso, head of the state’s public utilities board, said he anticipated 80% of customers would have power restored by Friday night but that harder-to-reach areas or areas where the storm caused extensive damage would take longer.

Downed power lines on one Oradell block unraveled like spaghetti strands in the bottom of a bowl with one cable block Ivan Bodin's driveway.

"I don't know, it was alive they tell me, but I'm going to take a chance and drive over it," said Bodin, who tells WCBS 880's Peter Haskell that being without power is uncomfortable. "I have a generator working,  but the air conditioning is not hooked up to it."

PSE&G told residents on the block that they won't have service until Sunday. Resident Bob Savage is beyond aggravated.

"They should have been better prepared and they shouldn't send trucks someplace else," Savage said. 

Gov. Ned Lamont also called for an investigation of Connecticut’s two largest electric utility companies Wednesday.

Lamont asked the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to look into Eversource and United Illuminating and find out why they were not prepared for a quicker response, calling their power restoration efforts “wholly inadequate.”

The tongue lashing from Lamont came hours after he declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to provide services such as helping to clear roads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.