2020 — does the fun ever start????
So a global pandemic and murder hornets and all the other plagues of Egypt weren’t enough, this week we had a hurricane blow through town. On Tuesday, Hurricane Isaias hit the New York metropolitan area, and the winds were brutal enough to knock many a tree into many an above-ground power line.
So now hundreds of thousands of people in the area were without power on Tuesday afternoon.
You would think that in the second decade of the 21st century, in one of the major metropolises in the entire world, power would be restored quickly, right? Especially when the major provider of power, ConEdison, has been texting and e-mailing and tweeting and putting things on their web site for several days leading up to the hurricane’s arrival preaching precaution and safety and readiness and shit.
If you thought that, you’d be wrong. ConEd spent the first 24 hours after power went down doing damn little and providing zero communication. Everyone who reported an outage who asked for text updates got one (1) update via text, which said nothing of consequence. The work has been slow and restoration of power has gone at a snail’s pace.
What’s especially frustrating is the lack of communication. Until today — two full days after the power outage — there was nothing even resembling an estimate of completion, and even now it’s a vague “we hope to have it all done by Sunday” — which is obscene. Again, second decade of the 21st century, major metropolis. There is no excuse, none, for this lack of speed and especially for this lack of communication. Every complaint directed to @ConEdison on Twitter has resulted in a bot response either giving a useless platitude that provides no actual information, or asking for a DM with your address, which then gets only in response a platitude with no actual information.
Worse, ConEd said yesterday they’d provide dry ice for people to help with lost refrigeration. It was on WABC’s Eyewitness News and everything! So we went to the nearest distribution point for it, only to be told that they don’t have dry ice yet, just regular ice, but come back tomorrow at 9am, we’ll have dry ice!
We came back this morning to an empty parking lot. Security at the shopping center where this was happening said they cancelled.
So they not only got the hopes up of people who wanted to be able to salvage their food and, in some cases, their medications, they then yanked that hope away without warning.
Let me be blunt: ConEd’s handling of this has been beyond despicable, beyond incompetent, beyond pathetic. After SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, during which also lots of places were without power for up to a week or more, there should’ve been safeguards in place to keep it from happening again. Instead, they just fixed what was broken eight years ago and did nothing proactive.
Tellingly, Manhattan is almost completely unaffected, because their power lines are below ground, like civilized folk. I can’t help but wonder if the slow response is in part due to it “just” being the outer boroughs and Westchester County that are affected. I expect people outside the city to act as if Manhattan is all that matters, but it’s horrendous for the people who provide our power to do so.
Seeing how they’ve prioritized is maddening. Brooklyn has had 85% of its customers restored to power, and Staten Island has had 75% of its customers restored, while Queens is at about 50%, The Bronx? 33%. (Those figures as of 7.30 this morning, per ConEd’s own web site.)
Fuck you in the face, ConEd.
Having said all that, we’re in okay shape, partly because I’m lucky enough to be married to someone who’s been camping a lot. We have a couple of lanterns, we have a power inverter that can be hooked up to a marine battery, and between that and the car, we can charge phones and laptops and tablets, and also run a fan overnight so we can sleep. In addition, 12 years ago, I bought a big-ass cooler for an outdoor event (that wound up not happening), and that has been loaded with ziploc bags of ice and perishables, plus we’ve put a big pot filled with ice in the fridge, so most of our perishables are doing okay. (We have to replenish the ice regularly, of course — I think I’ve bought 25 bags of ice over the past couple of days….) The freezer was packed solid thanks to a recent trip to the butcher, and it’s all still mostly frozen, amazingly enough, though that won’t last much longer, and we’ll have to make some decisions about that stuff if this continues.
Having said that, today when I went out for coffee and bagels, I saw something I hadn’t seen at all in the neighborhood since the hurricane: work trucks! There are cherry-pickers finally clearing the downed trees (including one that has blocked both ways of one of the major thoroughfares in the area for two days), and one of the trucks belongs to a power line company (not ConEd, but I know they’re sub-contracting work — they kinda have to).
Let’s hope that this is a good sign that we’ll have actual electricity running through our house again soon………..