Heat wave returns before electricity for some after storm
NEW YORK (AP) — Another heat wave was rolling into the New York tristate region Sunday as crews worked to restore power to over 300,000 residents and businesses who were still without power after last week’s tropical storm.
The race to restore electricity for desperately needed air conditioners, refrigerators, well pumps and other equipment as another work week approached was in full swing under sunny skies as thousands of power company workers tried to restore energy before temperatures lurch toward 90 degrees on Monday.
The power restoration was made more urgent by the pandemic that has turned homes into work places for many.
The National Weather Service issued a heat alert Sunday, saying temperatures from noon Monday until 8 p.m. Wednesday would create conditions that “are dangerous to health,” particularly for anyone without air conditioning, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions.
Utility companies said they were doing the best they can to repair damage left behind by Tropical Storm Isaias, which temporarily wiped out power to over 2.5 million customers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
By Sunday night, tens of thousands residents and businesses remained without power although utilities said crews had restored power to most who were left in the dark.
Eversource Connecticut said more than 90% of its 1.3 million customers had power Sunday night.
“That represents kind of the major backbones of the system,” said Crag Hallstrom, the company’s resident of regional electric operations. “And then tomorrow and Tuesday we’ll focus more on the neighborhoods and single customers. But, 99% of the customers will be back Tuesday evening, that’s what we’re targeting.”
There were just over 116,000 customers still waiting to be restored at 8 p.m., with 2,300 line crews from 12 states and Canada working around the clock.
Hallstrom said 27 polling locations out of 540 polling spots statewide were without power Sunday, but would be restored by Tuesday’s elections.
United Illuminating said only 4,200 customers or about 1% of its total remained in the dark Sunday night.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” on Sunday said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted recovery efforts, including the hiring of restoration crews from states currently on the Connecticut, New York and New Jersey quarantine list.
“In the middle of a COVID pandemic, ‘Hey, I got a quarantine on people from South Carolina, (but) please come on up and fix our wires,’” he said. “But we’re getting people tested and we’re fixing the wires. Number one safety, we’ve got to get electricity back on.”
Lamont said all those out-of-state line workers are considered essential and are not being subjected to the 14-day quarantine.
PSEG on Long Island reported steady progress Saturday but said 35,000 of its 420,000 storm-affected customers were without power Sunday afternoon..
“While we have made steady progress, we are finding that each job is requiring more work than anticipated due to the extent of the storm’s damage. The more than 5,000 fallen trees or large limbs reported have contributed to the amount of work required to bring customers back,” the company said in a statement.
It added that power to some customers would not be restored until Monday.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran called the rate of restorations on Long Island unacceptable.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer said he told the head of the utility Sunday that nearly a week was too long to wait for restoration of power, particularly for vulnerable populations like the elderly and sick.
About 45,000 customers of several utilities in New Jersey remained without power Sunday.
Con Edison said nearly all of its New York City customers would be restored by the end of Sunday while some in Westchester County would not be fixed until Monday.
About 300,000 Con Edison customers lost power in the storm in New York City and its northern suburbs and the company said just over 36,000 awaited repairs Sunday night.
Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Columbia, Connecticut, contributed to this story.