Quantcast

Gas Outage at Smith Houses Threatens Thanksgiving for Third Year

By Serena Solomon | November 21, 2013 9:20am
 Aixa Torres prepares for a Thanksgiving meal in 2011, when a gas outage threatened residents' ability to roast turkeys.
Aixa Torres prepares for a Thanksgiving meal in 2011, when a gas outage threatened residents' ability to roast turkeys.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Serena Solomon

LOWER EAST SIDE — Gas outages hit the Lower East Side's Smith Houses this week, leaving some residents worried that they won't be able to cook their Thanksgiving turkeys.

As many as 16 apartments in the New York City Housing Authority complex lost their gas on Monday, and it still hadn't been restored as of Wednesday evening. Gas outages have plagued Smith Houses for the past several years, including around Thanksgiving, because the buildings' aging infrastructure makes quick repairs impossible, according to Aixa Torres, president of the complex's tenant association.

"There is no way they will be able to replace those gas pipes before Thanksgiving," Torres said.

"The shortest timeframe they [NYCHA] have been able to do the work and put in a line has been 15 days."

In November 2011, a monthlong gas outage threatened the ability of another 16 families to roast turkeys, but the gas came back on hours before Thanksgiving. And again last year, only a few days before Thanksgiving another decrepit gas line was restored, allowing the handful of families affected to roast their turkeys, according to Torres.

"I pushed and pushed and pushed so they would have their gas for Thanksgiving," she said.

When gas outages occur, which happens at least once a month, according to Torres, affected residents are issued with an electric cooktop from NYCHA.  However, those break easily and are not conducive to cooking big meals, Torres said.

"The electric stove that they give them, it wouldn't sustain Thanksgiving cooking," she said. "There is no way they will be able to cook."

If the gas isn't restored by next Thursday, Torres said she and other volunteers will organize other families with working gas to help with the holiday cooking.

A two-month gas outage at AK Houses in Harlem is threatening Thanksgiving dinners there for 157 families.

NYCHA did not respond to emails requesting comment.