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NY declares emergency, probes Isaias power outage response

August 6, 2020 Associated Press
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York City and its surrounding areas on Wednesday and ordered a probe of utility companies a day after Tropical Storm Isaias downed trees, halted commuter trains and knocked out power to more than 700,000 people.

With many still in the dark after Tuesday’s storm, Cuomo blasted utility companies as having shown “reckless disregard” for storm planning and directed a state regulator to investigate their preparation and response. City utility Con Edison said some parts of Staten Island wouldn’t see power restored until Sunday night.

More than 83,000 homes and businesses in New York City were still without power as of 7 p.m. Wednesday, about 30 hours after the worst of the storm passed, and nearly 300,000 people on Long Island faced another night without lights or air conditioning.

Neighborhood residents stopped to inspect damage caused by a tree that fell on top of a house in Queens. Photo: Kathy Willens/AP

“The large volume of outages and the utilities’ failure to communicate with customers in real time proves they did not live up to their legal obligations,” Cuomo said in announcing the Public Service Department’s probe.

“The fact that many customers still do not know when their power will be restored makes it even more unacceptable,” he added. ‘The worst of this situation was avoidable, and it cannot happen again.”

PSEG on hard-hit Long Island said Isaias was one of the strongest storms it has seen in recent years and that crews were working around the clock to restore power. Con Edison said Isaias knocked more of its customers offline than any other storm except Superstorm Sandy.

While customers wait for their power to come back, Con Edison said it would set up ice distribution spots in Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn and at two locations in suburban Westchester.

Mayor Bill de Blasio talked with residents about damage from Tropical Storm Isaias in Queens. Photo: Frank Franklin II/AP

At least one person in the city was killed by the storm, a 60-year-old man in Queens whose van was crushed by a falling tree.

Cuomo’s emergency declaration applies to New York City and Long Island, as well as Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam, Columbia, Ulster and Sullivan counties. It enables the state to better aid in clean-up efforts.

Also Wednesday, Cuomo directed the New York National Guard to send 50 soldiers to help with storm response, cleanup and ice and water distribution in Putnam County.

“We’re taking an all-hands-on-deck approach and activating every resource at our disposal to expedite communities’ recovery from the impacts of Tropical Storm Isaias,” Cuomo said.

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