Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy and the Shame of ConEd Indifference

As all of the country and probably the world knows, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were hit with the worst storm in memory, Hurricane Sandy that is now dubbed a "superstorm" because of it's merger with a nor'ester.  It has claimed lives, destroyed property, and shaken all of us here.  Millions were without power, including me and family until yesterday.  We had no electricity, no heat, and no hot water for over 7 days.  We don't live in a costal area and it wasn't because of Sandy why we remained without power.  It was because of our utility company, Consoldiated Edison, aka, ConEd.  Here's my quick story on them.

I live in Saint Albans, Queens. At 2 pm on Monday, October 29, a tree hit an electrical pole two houses down from ours, cut the wires, and knocked out the power for the whole block. From that time until yesterday, November 5, there had not been one ConEd rep come to my neighborhood. The ConEd rep finally did come yesterday, along with the Parks Dep't rep (they handle tree removal), and they were pointing fingers at each other.

ConEd: "We can't fix the electricity until the tree is gone."

Parks: "We can't cut the tree because there're wires on it."

This goes back & forth and an argument ensues with them and my neighbors. There's an argument with them and my neighbors. A neighbor calls ConEd again and then the rep on the phone puts in an emergency order. Soon after, contractors from Pacific Gas & Electric ("PG&E") come, yes, the utility company from California.  These were outside contractors called in to "assist" ConEd's recovery efforts, but it has turned out that they are doing the bulk of the work.

The ConEd rep says, "You'll get power in 48 hrs." My neighbors go ballistic, saying, "There're children and elderly in these houses. There's no power, heat or hot water. It's freezing at night and a nor'easter is coming."

The PG&E foreman comes up to the ConEd rep, points at the electrical pole with the tree on it and says, "Yeah, we can fix that now."

TWO HOURS. That's how quickly the PG&E crew took to rewire the whole block and put the power back on. From their experience in this crisis, they’ve learned that ConEd is lazy and all they do is try to find excuses as to why a job can't be done. That’s what the PG&E workers told us. The PG&E crew is also used to working 30 hr shifts in emergencies and thought they would do the same here, but no, ConEd said they only work 16 hrs.

Many places in the Tri-state area are absolutely devastated.  They've lost homes or their homes still stand but are uninhabitable.  In many areas power can't be restored because the electrical equipment was damaged by storm surges are they are still under water.  However, that is not the case for the majority of those without power.  People like me who are helpless until ConEd decides to get off their asses and do a two hour job.  We are or were without power because of of the indifference, neglect or incompetence of  ConEd.

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