New York City got hit with widespread power outages in the
wake of Hurricane Sandy, with some 793,000 in the metropolitan area without
power, according to a Con Edison spokesperson.
Getting the power back won't be easy, largely because of the
flooding. It will probably be at least a few days before power can be
restored. "We're focusing on damage assessment," the spokesperson
said. Con Edison Senior Vice President for Electric Operations John Miksad
New York that it was the biggest storm-related power outage in the
Con Edison serves 3.2 million people in Westchester County
and New York City. In Westchester, some 180 roads are closed by downed trees,
so crews are going to have a tough time getting to places where trees have hit
The utility company cut power for customers south of Wall
Street at 7 p.m. on Monday. The same thing was done in parts of
cutting the power was necessary as it's more dangerous to have current flowing through equipment
gets flooded — it can cause short circuits, fires, and other
Con Edison has an outage map
showing areas that are currently without power.
In New York City, the water has to be flushed out
of the flooded areas first before power equipment can be checked to be sure it's safe to run
current through. And the current to damaged equipment has to be shut down before
repairs can be made.
Odds are, if your area is served by underground lines, the
power should be back in four days; it will be a week or so for those served
by telephone poles. But those timelines are approximate; a lot will depend on
what the situation is locally. Anyplace there is standing water and downed power lines is dangerous; there have been 10 fatalities in New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference that a few were the result of people stepping into puddles near live power lines.
While it's certainly inconvenient, there is also another
logic to cutting the power in certain areas. When power is suddenly cut off in
one part of the system, it increases the current flowing through other parts
of the grid. That can overload the system causing more damage and an even wider
Another twist for some Manhattanites is losing the steam
heat system. In New York, many buildings are heated by a system of steam pipes
from a central plant. Con Edison had to shut down the system in some areas
because if water hit the pipes, the temperature difference would weaken the
metal, which could lead to explosions.
The loss of the steam system means that some people will be without heat and
At about 8:30 p.m. last night a power
plant explosion on the eastern shore of Manhattan was caught on video,
though a Con Edison spokesperson said it wasn't clear whether it was caused by flooding or flying debris. After the explosion, power was out south
of 39th street. The substation served about 250,000 people.
Photo, top: The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel floods after a tidal
surge from Hurricane Sandy (Allison Joyce/Getty Images); bottom: Downed trees in lower Manhattan block streets (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis)