Millions of New Yorkers will still be without power for another 10 days as city’s power supplier ConEd continues to fix overhead power wires.
Electricity is expected to be restored to the main island of Manhattan by Saturday, however, since the area is largely run by an underground power network that is easier to fix than the downed electrical lines.
While utility company Consolidated Edison, commonly known as ConEd, are on track to uphold their original plan of returning power to all of Manhattan island on either Friday or Saturday, they said that the outer boroughs will have to wait until November 10th or 11th for their power.
The delay in reaching the outer boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx was attributed to the difficulties of fixing or replacing the downed overhead lines.
Throughout the week, the company has been gradually restoring power to portions of the city, and has reached at least 2,000 people in lower Manhattan so far.
While helpful, that is only a sliver of the 227,000 homes and businesses in Manhattan that went dark Monday.
In order to avoid permanent damage from rising sea waters, the company preemptively took two underground electrical networks out of service and the latest restored power areas were a result of those networks being reactivated.
While that reactivation was relatively easy, the bigger problems came from a massive explosion at one of the ConEd power plants in Manhattan’s East Village.
The explosion came after the plant was overwhelmed by floodwater.
Regardless, the East and West Villages, Financial District, Chelsea, Chinatown and the Lower East Side will be up and running by the weekend, Con Edison said.
The island’s wiring system is largely underground so workers have been able to asses and repair it faster than above ground wiring of the outer boroughs.
Outages in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were not expected to be repaired for another week, the power company said.
For New Yorkers living in the vertical city, a loss of power means much more than spoiled cold cuts and frozen dinners.
Electricity is needed to pump water to upper floors. Many New Yorkers prepared for the storm by stocking up on bottled water. But without power, there’s no way to flush the toilet.
For others, the outage had graver consequences.
“I have several hundred dollars’ worth of insulin in the refrigerator,” said Joan Moore of New York’s Staten Island, who is diabetic.
There were encouraging acts of kindness, gestures made by the lucky ones with electricity.
“I have power and hot water. If anyone needs a shower or to charge some gadgets or just wants to bask in the beauty of artificial light, hit me up,” Rob Hart, who also lives on Staten Island, wrote on Facebook.
In New York City and along the New Jersey and Connecticut coasts, flooding knocked out substations and switching yards, the vertebrae of the electric distribution system.
Hurricane Sandy blacked out some of the nation’s most densely populated cities and suburbs, instantly taking away modern conveniences from Virginia to Massachusetts and as far west as the Great Lakes.
For power companies, the scale of the destruction was unmatched – more widespread than any blizzard or ice storm and worse than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s unprecedented: fallen trees, debris, the roads, water, snow. It’s a little bit of everything,” said Brian Wolff, senior vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, a group that lobbies for utilities.
Initially, about 60 million people were without power in 8.2 million homes and businesses. By Wednesday night, that number had fallen to roughly 44 million people in 6 million households and businesses.
Even as power slowly returned to some pockets, a new headache emerged: Backup batteries and generators running cellphone towers were running out of juice. One out of every five towers was down, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
New Yorker Vildia Samaniego traveled four miles uptown to a bar, the Blarney Stone, to watch the Boston Celtics play the Miami Heat.
“I really needed to watch the basketball game,” she laughed.
“The place was packed. It’s amazing how much you miss television.”