BY JASMINE PALMA
As Tropical Storm Isaias ravages the East Coast, the rain and high winds have caused an estimated 33,000 Con Edison customers to experience power outages in Queens on Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Con Edison Vice President of Emergency Preparedness Matthew Sniffen reported that Isaias has brought with it the third most outages to the company’s customers in its history. Only Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy caused more outages.
Large swaths of customers in College Point, Auburndale, Middle Village, Jamaica, Ozone Park, South Ozone Park and Springfield Gardens experienced outages on Tuesday.
“We think the impact of the storm is pretty much over,” Sniffen said Tuesday afternoon. “Meaning the storm has passed with significant winds and rain.”
High gusts of wind have been tumbling trees and branches toward power lines, resulting in a loss of power. Trees have a heightened possibility of tipping due to the rain that has fallen in the last 24 hours. The company cautions people to stay clear from downed wires.
According to Notify NYC, forestry crews and emergency personnel are working to tend to the damages in parks and trees across the city.
Customers from the greater New York City area, with the exception of Manhattan wherein the electrical system is entirely underground, have received text messages to advise customers to be prepared and to report an outage by replying “OUT.”
Those who report outages can expect to receive updates from the company with an estimated restoration time upon availability.
To meet the needs of customers, the company says it has taken in 220 additional workers to restore services. Thus far, 3,000 customers have regained power via remote switching.
Con Edison says it will prioritize repairs that will give power to the most customers before addressing the needs of individual customers. Sniffen said that this process will not be a matter of hours, but of days.
Once the storm has passed, ConEdison says it will evaluate the extent of damage. They said they cannot dispatch workers in the midst of the storm to perform restoration tasks until the storm passes for the safety of their employees.
“Safety will be paramount for us, for every step of the way,” Sniffen said.
The company said it will collaborate with local public work crews to clear roads strewn with hazardous obstacles such as trees and branches.
In order to remove trees, Con Edison must de-energize the wires for them to be cut and disentangled.
The mayor announced Tuesday that at least 2,000 trees had fallen across the city.
Con Edison’s plan to make repairs involves scheduling extra crews and equipment, as well as appointing staging centers for quick responses to issues on the overhead electrical system.
The electrical company provided the following tips for customers:
- Do not go near downed wires. Treat all downed wires as if they are live. Never attempt to move them or touch them with your hands or any object. Be mindful that downed wires can be hidden from view by snow, tree limbs, leaves or water.
- Report all downed wires to Con Edison and your local police department immediately. If a power line falls on your car while you’re in it, stay inside the vehicle and wait for emergency personnel.
- If your power goes out, disconnect or turn off appliances that would otherwise turn on automatically when service is restored. If several appliances start up at once, the electric circuits may overload.
- Check to make sure your flashlights and any battery-operated radios or televisions are in working order. Make sure you have a supply of extra batteries. Weather updates and news on restorations of electrical service can be heard on most local radio and television stations.
- For more storm tips and preparation, go to www.conEd.com
Con Edison customers can report outages and check the status of restoration at conEd.com/reportoutage, with Con Edison’s mobile app, or by calling 800-752-6633. Customers can also sign up for text alerts at conED.com/text.