New Yorkers took to the streets last night as Con Ed began restoring power to lower Manhattan after repairing the East 14th Street subway station that exploded when Hurricane Sandy hit on Monday night.
Electricity began coming on to more than 65,000 customers in parts of the East Village, SoHo and the Lower East Side at around 6:00 p.m. while thousands of residents in Chelsea and the so-called Madison Network were able to switch on their lights again about an hour later.
People took to the streets cheering on Prince and Lafayette in Nolita as the lights finally flickered again after days of darkness.
Power was restored north to south between Canal Street and Broadway, and East to West between the East River and 14th street.
At 6:00 p.m. the Chelsea network went back up between the Hudson River and Fifth Avenue, and 31st Street on north and 15th street
The news comes as a huge relief to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been without power since Monday night.
Many of them had left the so-called Dark Zone below 39th street but there are still tens of thousands of people living in increasingly difficult conditions.
Con Edison let customers know the good news with a flurry of proud tweets on Friday evening.
Starting with the restoration of power for 65,000 in the East Village and the Lower East Side at around 5:45 p.m., the company then boasted at about 6:45 p.m.: “#ConEdison just restored power to 25,000 customers in the #Chelsea network.”
At around 7:00 p.m., Con Edison tweeted that another 8,000 customers in the #City Hall network were back on the grid – from Broadway to the East River and Canal Street to Frankfort.
This announcement quickly followed with the news that over 30,000 homes stretching from 31st to 14th Streets and Fifth Avenue to the East River were restored.
But Manhattan wasn’t the only borough the electricity company was concentrating on.
As the announcements were coming thick and fast on the island, Con Edison tweeted just before 7:00 p.m. that more than 122,000 Brooklyn residents had electricity back up and running and more than 39,000 customers were rejoicing as they switched on their lights in the Bronx.
An additional 29,000 households in Queens were also powered up again before 7:00 p.m. and 85,000 in devastated Staten Island, for the first time since the Superstorm savaged New York.
The electricity company said things should be back to normal for most residents in these areas though it couldn’t guarantee that individual customers’ equipment had not been damaged in the storm, which would delay their return to power.
Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in New York and 1.5 million in New Jersey were still without power on Friday, four days after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast, the states’ power companies said.
Most utility companies in the two states said it could take a week or longer to restore power to all customers in the wake of Sandy, the worst natural disaster to strike their customers.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo sent a letter Thursday to the CEOs of state power companies, saying he would “take appropriate action against those utilities and their management if they do not meet their obligations to New Yorkers in this time of crisis”.
“I recognize there are men and women in the field now working hard to restore service … but it is your job to provide them with adequate resources and support to get the job done in a timely and safe manner,” Andrew Cuomo said.
Con Edison serves more than 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester County.
In New Jersey, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc said about 700,000 customers were still out, down from 1.7 million. PSEG serves about 2.2 million customers in the state.
FirstEnergy Corp’s Jersey Central Power and Light utility reported more than 713,100 customers were still without power, down from more than 1 million affected by the storm. JCP&L serves about 1.2 million in New Jersey.
Across the U.S. Northeast power companies have restored electricity to more than half of the 8.48 million customers left without service, leaving nearly 3.6 million without service in 11 states Friday morning, federal data showed.
Con Edison said it expects to make significant progress restoring electricity to all customers over the next seven days.
In lower and mid-Manhattan, Con Edison has said it expected to restore power by Saturday, November 3.
But the company warned that more than 100 buildings that have had their power restored were still without electricity due to flooding in basements or damage to local equipment.
To date, Con Edison said its crews have restored electricity to more than 320,000 customers affected by Sandy.
As of 5:00 a.m. EDT on Friday, Con Edison said about 226,000 customers lacked service in Manhattan, 84,000 in Queens, 35,000 in Brooklyn, 54,000 in Staten Island, 31,000 in the Bronx and 140,000 in Westchester.
Elsewhere in New York, the Long Island Power Co (LIPA) said it still had about 529,800 customers without power, down from more than 900,000. LIPA serves about 1.1 million customers on Long Island.