Local officials are frustrated—to say the least—with the response from NYSEG, which delivers electricity to most of Northern Westchester.
"There are so many local and regional groups working together to recover from Sandy—even the National Guard is here to help us clear roads," Bedford Supervisor said Thursday morning. "But there is no NYSEG."
Roberts said in a Thursday morning conference call, NYSEG representatives said they were doing all they can to continue the clean up from Hurricane Sandy. But the multi-step process has been moving slowly, she said.
The utility said they first had to repair transmission lines before they could move on to substation repair. Then work on the distribution lines—which brings electricity to local homes—follows. See the bottom of this article for a breakdown of the process.
"After Irene, we were told we would have a crew assigned to each municipality to help us do the "make safe" work needed before power lines could be moved. But I've heard that crew was assigned to the county instead of Bedford. No one seems to have any answers," she said.
NYSEG officials have also refused to commit to restoration times, she said, citing horrendous damage "like they'd never seen before." When she and other local and county officials pressed them to commit to times to help locals plan, the utility company said they didn't want to give locals false hope. After Irene, they failed to meet estimated repair times which they said made the situation worse.
County Legislator Peter Harckham is also working to get answers from NYSEG.
"It is unacceptable that NYSEG has not provided ‘make safe’ crews to our municipalities. Our local highway crews stand at the ready to open roads, but cannot until they are told a downed line is safe. What is worse, this was a best practice learned during Hurricane Irene," he said in an e-news release. "It is mind boggling that NYSEG has not followed this practice. I, along with your local, state and other County officials, have voiced our frustration with NYSEG at the highest levels."
Roberts said today she has seen trucks on Adams Street and has confirmed that the work on the Bedford Hills power substation is underway.
"We will continue to provide dry ice and water and warming centers to residents, but I don't know how long people can last without sanitary conditions and cold temperatures at home," she said.
Damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy will take days to repair, NYSEG warned early this week.
“NYSEG and RG&E crews are making solid progress restoring service in the upstate region where damage was much less severe than it could have been,” said Mark S. Lynch, president of NYSEG and RG&E. “As we complete our work there, crews will be re-assigned to assist our downstate crews in making repairs.”
While utility crews have made progress in upstate areas, work in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties is still in the assessment phase.
“To put this storm and the current damage into perspective, the day after Irene was warm and sunny and we were able to begin our restoration work immediately. That restoration effort across the NYSEG service area took approximately eight days,” Lynch said. “Today we are still fighting inclement weather—for example we are not able to fly to inspect our transmission lines, and the damage to our facilities appears to be much worse than it was following Irene.”
Crews will begin "comprehensive damage assessment" on Wednesday, followed by the distribution of estimated restoration times.
How Power is Restored:
According to Lynch, the safety of crews and customers is paramount and this procedure ensures safety is a priority:
- Removing hazards – such as live, fallen power lines.
- Make necessary repairs to the backbone of the system: transmission lines and substations.
- Work on our local delivery system, including the poles and power lines along streets and roads, focusing first on critical facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and fire and power stations.
After the storm there were 31,000 Westchester residents and over 32,000 Putnam residents currently without power.