More than 100,000 customers were still in the dark across the Northeast Tuesday night after severe weather and thunderstorms.
In New York City, 418 power outages were still reported by Con Edison as of 9 p.m. In New Jersey 97,000 customers were without power late Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said. And in Michigan, 22,000 were still without power, DTE Energy said.
Airports in New York and New Jersey are currently experiencing ground stops, while Boston and Philadelphia are experiencing “gate hold” and “taxi delays” due to weather, according to the FAA.
Early Monday morning, 21,500 Con Edison customers had no electricity, the utility company said in a statement. Of these customers, 14,000 reside in Brooklyn, including the neighborhoods of Canarsie, Flatlands, Mill Basin, Old Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Georgetown and part of East Flatbush. An additional 7,500 customers who are not receiving services are scattered throughout the city and Westchester County, according to Con Edison.
The electricity went out late Sunday afternoon, just before dark, as a result of high usage in the continuing heat, according to Con Ed. Temperatures soared to 100 degrees over the weekend in the Big Apple, though Monday’s rain is expected to cool the area and drop temperatures to the low 80s, according to the National Weather Service.
In southeast Michigan, at least 250,000 customers, including residents in the Detroit metropolitan area, started their day without power, according to a Monday morning update from DTE Energy. By 9:00 pm eastern time, that number had dropped to 140,000 customers, DTE said in a later statement.
A large storm knocked out power lines Sunday and initially left 600,000 customers without access to electricity, DTE said. “We expect to have 90% of all customers restored by end of day Tuesday, and the remainder by end of day Wednesday,” the utility company said.
The weekend’s severe thunderstorms have given way to sunshine in lower Michigan, where temperatures are expected to reach a pleasant high of 78 on Monday, according to the weather service.
In New York City, the power outages affected traffic lights but resulted in “no arrests, no summonses, no reports of any problems at all,” NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio said at a Monday morning news conference. Speaking from an emergency management command post set up in Brooklyn, the mayor said that little more than a week ago, a power outage “that came out of nowhere” occurred in Manhattan and now following the heat wave — “obviously a predictable situation and therefore preventable” — another outage.
“We don’t have any good answers yet why this was not prevented,” said de Blasio, who added that Con Ed has not responded to his request for answers about why the outage happened, though it appeared to result from a malfunctioning piece of equipment.
“We were informed as it was happening,” said de Blasio. “Con Ed made this decision unilaterally. They made a conscious decision to pull out electricity from this area.”
The mayor thanked the NYPD, New York State Police, which supplied a couple hundred officers to be deployed in the city; first responders and the FDNY, which proactively went to the homes of people who needed assistance.
While the total economic impact remains unknown, the harm done to customers, some elderly and vulnerable to the heat, is obvious, said de Blasio.
Dr. Peter Shearer, chief medical officer for Mount Sinai Hospital’s Brooklyn campus in the Flatlands, told CNN in an email that the hospital had “twice as many patients as usual” during the outage.
Symptoms were “typical” for a blackout, mostly respiratory issues, said Shearer, who added that, as of Monday morning, some patients were still hanging around the emergency room waiting to hear whether power had returned to their homes.
The American Red Cross opened two shelters at the request of NYC Emergency Management, according to Michael de Vulpillieres, a spokesman for the Red Cross. “Shelter population for these incidents was minimal.”
Candance Floyd, a resident of Canarsie in Brooklyn, had her power go out around 8 p.m. today after four-and-a-half-hour blackout the night before. She said she hadn’t had blackouts during storms since the early 2000’s.
“I don’t know what Con Edison is doing but they need to get their act together,” Floyd said.
Steven Hilly, a 28-year-old resident of the Flatlands who lost power Sunday evening, described the heat as “unbearable.”
“A lot of the older residents in the area couldn’t take it and ambulances were called,” Hilly told CNN in a text conversation. “Power didn’t come back until about 3 a.m. In the meantime we had to sleep in rooms with no circulation.”
Hilly, who lives alone with Nala, his Boston terrier who is frightened by the dark, added, “The whole neighborhood was out. Pitch black, besides a few cars on the street with people charging phones and trying to get air conditioning.”
De Blasio said he wants “to see people appropriately compensated.”
“Bottom line: this should not have happened and we’re going to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Southeast Michigan and Motor City
Heather Rivard, a senior vice president at DTE, said at a Monday news conference that two large storm events in a single weekend overwhelmed the utility system. Workers had begun to repair the damage following Friday evening’s storm, with winds clocked at 50 to 60 mph, but then a second storm with even stronger winds — 60 to 70 mph — occurred on Saturday.
While outages were initially concentrated on the west side of DTE’s southern Michigan service area — from Ann Arbor up to Howell — after Saturday, power outages had become “quite widespread,” said Rivard.
The outages span a service territory of more than 7,000 square miles, according to a Monday tweet from the company.
“In this particular storm, there was a lot of tree damage, not surprising due to the high winds,” said Rivard. This means utility crews must first clear the trees before repairing lines and equipment.
Overall, in southeast Michigan, DTE has already repaired nearly half of the more than 2,000 wires downed by the severe weather that whipped through the region over the weekend, and its crews have been working 16-hour shifts around the clock to restore power, according to the company.
“More than 1,100 employees and contractors are in the field and nearly 750 workers from as far as Georgia and New York have joined our restoration efforts with additional crews arriving throughout the day today,” the company said in a statement.
Rivard said communication of the company’s restoration plan faltered over the weekend.
“Yesterday we experienced significant issues with our technology, making it more difficult for customers to see their estimated restoration times on our website as well as on our mobile app,” said Rivard. The company has fixed those communication channels as of Monday and will be monitoring them to avoid future problems, she added.
Other improvements planned include more extensive tree-trimming along power lines and investments in the distribution grid itself, including infrastructure, Rivard said.
DTE also urged the public to be careful of any downed wires. Pedestrians should assume that any fallen line is energized and stay at least 20 feet away, while motorists should never drive across downed power lines. If a line falls on a vehicle, passengers should remain inside until help arrives.