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Power Back on in East Village, Lower East Side and Chelsea After Sandy

By  Tom Liddy and Julie  Shapiro | November 2, 2012 4:59pm | Updated on November 2, 2012 10:05pm

MANHATTAN — Let there be light!

Power was restored to the Lower East Side, East Village, Chelsea, Gramercy and part of Lower Manhattan Friday afternoon after nearly four days in darkness following Hurricane Sandy.

Cheers erupted from Tompkins Square Park to the public housing buildings on Madison Street and buses tooted their horns after the lights popped back on on the East Side just before 5 p.m. Electricity returned to Chelsea, Gramercy, Stuyvesant Town and the area just north of City Hall about an hour later.

But power was still out in many parts of the city Friday night, including SoHo, Greenwich Village and much of Murray Hill in Manhattan.

"You've seen the lights and you've heard the cheers in Manhattan," said John Miksad, Con Edison's senior vice president of electric operations. "We have taken a big step forward in our restoration efforts.... [But] we still have a huge task ahead of us."

While about 120,000 customers in Manhattan received power Friday afternoon and evening, there were still 450,000 households in the five boroughs and Westchester that were in the dark, Miksad said.

All of Manhattan will have electricity by Saturday evening, but in the outer boroughs, it could take another week to connect everyone back to the grid, Miksad said.

On Friday afternoon, Peter Justice was about to cross Avenue A, near East 8th Street, when he suddenly saw the red "Don't Walk" sign flash up.

"People on the corner started cheering, 'The lights are on! The lights are on!" said Justice, 38.

Another woman said: "Lights again, Thank you, Jesus."

The power filled the East Village and Lower East Side from Canal Street to 14th Street, from Broadway to the East River, according to Con Edison.

Lights also went on in Chelsea, Gramercy and Madison Square from 14th and 15th streets up to 30th and 31st streets all the way from river to river, and near City Hall, between Canal and Frankfort streets from Broadway to the East River, plus part of Wall Street, Con Ed said.

"I'm the most excited person in the world," said Mike Van Dorn, 21, a New York University student who lives at St. Mark's Place and First Avenue. "I can take a hot shower!"

The MTA partially restored nighttime bus service in Lower Manhattan after the lights went on, extending the SBS M15, M15, M5, M101, M102 and M103 buses along their full routes Downtown. However, the M11 and M20 buses were still terminating at 14th Street.

Subway service had not returned to Lower Manhattan as of Friday evening.

Bars and restaurants in the East Village prepared to reopen with electricity after spending four days shuttered or serving drinks by candlelight — and some were already running out of alcohol.

Bar 82, at Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place, was out of Jack Daniels, Jameson and Maker's Mark after not receiving any shipments following the storm, said Meghan Taylor, 40, a bartender.

"I think that everyone is going to go home to shower, put on clean clothes and then slam the bars," Taylor said.

She added that she wasn't expecting any complaints about some types of alcohol running out.

"They're going to be so happy to get out of the house," Taylor said, "I think they'll take whatever they can get."

A couple blocks away, Kabin Bar and Lounge had run out of Jack Daniels, Jameson, Absolut and Patron tequila. Bartender Mera Bray, 24, said the hard alcohol was popular after the storm because the bar couldn't serve draft beers without electricity.

"People were coming in and wanting shots, shots, shots," she said, "because all we had was bottled beer, and no one drinks domestic beer."

Lance Stamps, owner of Open House at 244 E. Houston St., planned to reopen the bar at 9 p.m. 

"People are dying in the neighborhood to get back to normal," he said. "All of the businesses in the neighborhood are just trying to make up for thousands that they lost. We're offering some of our neighbors free drinks to celebrate and make them feel at home again."

The gas station at East Houston Street and Avenue B opened shortly after it received power, and it was immediately swamped by fuel-thirsty cabbies.

Some who got fed up waiting in their cars turned to small, handheld containers instead and lined up at a dedicated pump.

"This is horrible. People wait for three, four hours in lines," said cab driver Tommy Hung, 48, as he waited to fill a five-gallon carrier — which wouldn't even fill a quarter of his tank but was still better than nothing, he said. 

Across the East River, Brooklyn Heights resident Chris Abraham, 34, said he was thrilled to see the familiar, lit-up view of Lower Manhattan return Friday night.

"It's kind of like seeing a sleeping giant wake up," he said. "Like seeing blood rush back into the system."

Thrilled Lower East Siders also shared their joy on Twitter.

"LES erupts in cheers as power is restored!" tweeted @sarahbnyc. "#LetThereBeLight #DoingLaundry."

“Power is back in the East Village!!!! #arethebarsopenyet #toosoon?” tweeted @tracydepascale.

With reporting by Andrea Swalec, Chelsia Rose Marcius, Emily Frost, Jill Colvin, Farran Powell and Victoria Bekiempis.