NEW YORK CITY — ConEdison has shut down power to thousands of customers across Lower Manhattan, including the New York Stock Exchange — and is still considering a preemptive shutdown in Brooklyn — in a move that could leave much of the city’s financial center dark for days.
With tens of thousands of customers across the city already without electricity, ConEd said the voluntary shutdown — which could plunge as many as 30,000 customers that previously had power into the dark — could prevent devastating damage to electrical equipment, which is often housed in building basements, and is much more vulnerable if power is on.
“We’re doing that to reduce the likelihood of damage to both our equipment and our customers’ equipment,” said ConEd Chair Kevin Burke to reporters at a press conference Monday evening at the City’s Office of Emergency Management.
The shut-off would likely include two sets of power networks that span the southeast tip of Lower Manhattan, all the way from Frankfort Street in the north to South Street in the south, and east of Williams Street to the river north of Wall Street, and east of Broadway to the river south of Wall Street. The networks serve a combined 6,500 customers, ConEd officials said,
In Brooklyn, the impacted area spans from the Atlantic Ocean, up to Coney Island Creek/Gravesend Neck Road, and from 15th Street East/16th Street East on the east, to Shell Road/Coney Island Creel/Gravesend Bay to the west, affecting approximately 28,000 customers.
In those neighborhoods, all traffic lights and street lamps could go dark as the worst of the storm rolls in.
ConEd is also considering shuttering power to another 20 large, high-voltage customers, such as the Kipps Bay complex, if flooding is severe, Burke said.
ConEd is also monitoring other vulnerable sections of Flushing and Jamaica for potential shutdowns, and officials were placing calls to thousands of customers in Manhattan south of 36th Street as well as flood-prone areas of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, warning them the company may have to shut off power if the surge rises as high as forecasters think.
Widespread power outages already plagued 72,720 New York City customers, as of 7 p.m.
By early evening Queens and Staten Island were suffering the worst outages citywide, with at least 21,000 in each borough reporting a lack of power, according to ConEd.
In Brooklyn more than 16,000 were without power, and more than 8,000 customers were out in the Bronx. Manhattan — where most power lines run underground — was the least affected, with just one customers was without power.
Spokesman Michael Clendenin warned that the online tool’s restoration estimates — some of which suggested restoration later tonight or early tomorrow — were not accurate.
“In these high winds we’re not really able to do these restorations. If you’re out [of power] now, you need to expect to be out for a few days,” he said.
While shutdowns will be likely if the storm reaches the upper heights of the projected 10- to-12- foot storm surge, staff are planning to wait until seawater begins to actually infiltrate the system to make the final call about turning off power, which can happen remotely almost immediately, officials said.
But officials refused to say how long a possible outage could last — only saying that it could take “days” to restore the system if it floods. If equipment is flooded, crews would have to wait for the tides to recede to get back in and pump out equipment, which would then need to be dried, cleaned and repaired before power could be restored.
Officials are also warning customers who live in other sections of the city to prepare for outages that could last “for some number of days.”
ConEd has also shut down steam service to 15 miles of power mains serving 140 buildings in areas of Manhattan prone to flooding, including Stuy-Town in the East Village, and outages could expand all the way up to 14th Street. If hot steam pipes — which are often used to heat water — are inundated with cool flood water, they can explode, officials said.
Scattered gas outages have also been reported in Throgs Neck in the Bronx and Governors Island.
In addition to its usual field crews, which are working around the clock, the company has hired an extra 700 contractors to assist with repairs.
Officials are advising residents to steer clear of any downed power wires and immediately report them to ConEd.
If your power goes out, turn off all lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when power is restored, they advise.
In the meantime, check to make sure you have working flashlights, radios and extra batteries, collect extra water in pots and the bathtub, turn your fridge and freezer down as low as they will go, and avoid opening your freezer to keep food colder longer.
Source: DNA Info