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Downtown Could Stay Dark Through Saturday, ConEd Warns

By Jill Colvin | October 31, 2012 1:04pm | Updated on October 31, 2012 9:27pm

NEW YORK — The lights are finally starting to flicker back on in some parts of the city, but most residents south of 34th Street shouldn't expect to have power again before Friday or Saturday, officals said.

ConEdison has restored power to 139,000 customers across the city and Westchester, including about 2,000 customers in Lower Manhattan and 28,000 in Brighton Beach — two days after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the city with unprecedented flooding, winds and fire officials announced Wednesday.

The restoration includes a section of the Financial District just south of the World Trade Center that stretches from West Street to Broadway, from the water north to Liberty Street on the west and Vessey Street to the east.

In Brooklyn, residents in Coney Island, Seagate, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Sheepshead Bay also had power restored this afternoon.

“Our restoration process is well underway," ConEd's John Miksad said.

Still, more than 550,000 customers across the city remain without power, including 237,000 in Manhattan, 115,000 in Staten Island, 109,000 in Queens, 108,000 in Brooklyn, and 40,000 in the Bronx.

Con Ed crews preempitively shut down power to thousands of customers in lower Manhattan and Brighton Beach to protect underground equipment from flooding damage — and officials now expect all residents in those neighborhoods to have power By Friday or Saturday.

"We are seeing a lot of water in those networks," said Miksad, who said crews had discovered basements, subbasements, and parking facilities “filled to the brim with water” across lower Manhattan.

Crews are still at work pumping out water after which have to dry equipment with fans and blowers, clean them to make sure the salt water is removed, and then replace any equipment damaged in the flood.

Miksad said that crews are currently working to rebuild a plant at 14th Street and the East River, which was also flooded and exploded during the storm.

“There’s a major workforce over at that system as we speak," he said.

As for the 500,000 houses, businesses and apartments in the dark who are serviced by overhead lines, restoration is expected to "take at least a week" because of extensive damage, including roads still blocked by flooding and downed trees.

The storm knocked down more than 100,000 primary electrical wires, as well as thousands of secondary wires down, officials said.

Steam also remains out across Manhattan, from the Battery all the way to 42nd Street, and ConEd still has no estimate on when heat and hot water may be restored.

In addition to the existing problems, an additional 160,000 more New Yorkers in southern Brooklyn and portions of central Staten Island were plunged into darkness late Tuesday, after ConEd was forced to cut off power to high voltage systems due to damage.

The latest outage has affected residents and businesses across Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Midwood, East Flatbush and Flatbush in Brooklyn, and Tottenville, Annadale, Eltingville, Great Kills, Dongan Hills, and Westerleigh on Staten Island, ConEd said.

The company has also reduced power to voltage to customers in the Ocean Parkway, Flatbush, Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Borough Park, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst areas.

In addition to 1,400 contractors from as far away as California, 1,800 utility workers are also on their way from upstate New York to help clear the damage.

“We are pulling in resources from around the country,” said Miksad, who described the efforts as “one of the largest restorations in the company’s history.”

“I can assure you everybody is doing everything they can," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday, urging residents to remain patient as crews try to cope with damage of an historic scale.

"This is the most extreme situation we've ever dealt with," he said.