Monday night thunderstorm leaves more Brooklynites without power

Monday night thunderstorm leaves more Brooklynites without power
Workers install transformers in Flatlands, one of several southern Brooklyn neighborhoods affected by the blackout, Sunday night.
Steve Solomonson

More than 2,500 Brooklynites are still without power Tuesday morning as a result of the weekend’s brutal heat wave and Monday night’s thunderstorm.

Con Edison shut off power in parts of southern Brooklyn — including Canarsie, Marine Park, Mill Basin and parts of Flatbush — around 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, and the energy company is still working to restore power more than a day later.

“ConEd has restored power to over 99 percent of the 33,000 customers affected by [Sunday’s] outage in southeast Brooklyn neighborhoods,” the energy company said in a release Monday night.

However, there were nearly 11,000 new outages as a result of Monday night’s thunderstorm. According to ConEd’s outage map, 2,587 Brooklynites remain powerless as of 8:15 a.m. Tuesday morning. ConEd expects to fully restore power in the area by 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“Crews continue to work around the clock addressing the outages as quickly as possible,” ConEd said.

One Georgetown resident who endured the Sunday night blackout described a near-apocalyptic scene of utter darkness, with the only the visible light emanating from car headlights and the lights of emergency vehicles in the distance, and the roads pocked by car accidents — including one at Avenue T near E. 65th Street, and another on Avenue N near Ralph Avenue — as traffic signals remained unpowered throughout the night.

“There were so many accidents,” said Jamie Kaplan, whose E. 73rd Street home between avenues L and M lost power Sunday evening. “All you saw were accidents and ambulances and glass on the floor. Everything was pitch black and we heard gunshots too. We constantly heard car alarms going off.”

Kaplan said she was up all night soothing her 19-month-old daughter, Ellie; the mother wearing her bathing suit, the daughters down to diapers — both drenched in sweat. The heat was so terrible, she said, that she preferred the pitch blackness over lighting candles.

“She was screaming until 3 a.m.,” Kaplan said of her daughter. “We were dripping, dripping sweat.”

Adding to the surreal misery of the night, Kaplan claims that two-inch-long water bugs filled the streets and invaded their homes amid the searing heat. Her discovery that one massive insect had crawled into her daughter’s crib was the low point of an already grim evening.

“I took my flashlight and phone to get her stuffed animal, and there was this huge mofo running around in her crib,” said Kaplan. “I can’t live like that.”

Many residents fled their homes to take refuge in their vehicles, basking in the gas-powered air conditioning, desperate for relief and a few hours sleep.

“It was a nightmare man, it was a nightmare all night,” said Ricky Zawacki, another E. 73rd Street resident. “I wasn’t able to sleep. It was atrocious. I had to stay in my mom’s car with the AC on.”

Zawacki, who said power to his block was restored at 11:26 a.m. Monday morning — an interminable 16 hours following the blackout’s 7 p.m. start — was furious to learn that a power outage in Manhattan had been corrected after only six hours.

“How does it take six hours to reapply electricity to half of Manhattan — which is huge — but where we live it takes another 16 hours?” Zawacki railed. “What kind of b——- is that?”

While each of the five boroughs were affected by the blackout, Brooklyn residents suffered the most, according to Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents Sheepshead Bay and other areas who were affected by the blackout.

“Although my district was fortunate to be minimally impacted by power outages these past few days, Brooklyn as a whole was hardest hit,” he said. “New Yorkers deserve reliable electrical service, and quick restoration when there is unavoidable equipment failure… It is unacceptable that right now, more than 12 hours after the heat wave broke, there are still thousands without power.”

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who represents areas where ConEd decided to shut off the power, blasted the energy company for their handling of the situation.

“Many residents, including seniors, have been put in an unsafe situation because the power company that they relied on failed. As a matter of public health and safety, it simply cannot be the norm that the grid malfunctions during the hottest months,” Gounardes said. “Con Edison has a responsibility to its customers to ensure no one has their electricity turned off for hours in extreme heat. This was not an unforeseeable circumstance. ConEd should have been more prepared and must restore power to the affected areas immediately. This cannot happen again.”

The outage affected traffic signals in southern Brooklyn as well, though Mayor Bill de Blasio said that most have been restored as of Monday morning.

“We’ve brought more than half of the traffic signals back online the Flatlands-Mill Basin-Canarsie area,” he said on Twitter early Monday. “NYPD has been bringing in additional personnel to support areas still without power to direct traffic.

De Blasio blasted ConEd at a press conference in Mill Basin Monday for its refusal to provide a substantial explanation of what caused the latest debacle.

“I’m calling for a full investigation and further that we examine whether we need a new entity to handle this situation going forward. Because at this point I do not have faith in ConEd… They’re not doing their job and they’re not giving real answers. Is it now time to do something different.”

Councliman Robert Cornegy similarly blasted ConEd Monday afternoon.

“The recent power outages across Brooklyn represent a shocking display of indifference from Con Edison. Intentionally cutting the power to 30,000 Brooklyn residents in their attempts to resolve an issue they should not have had in the first place, is yet another major misstep on the part of Con Ed. Even now, the work has still not been resolved,” he said. “ConEd just last week claimed to be preparing for this heat wave, and admitted that other outages may occur. This is simply unacceptable… If this is the best service we have from ConEd, we must find a far more reliable and accountable solution, and I will work with my colleagues and appropriate agencies in our city to see that we find it.”

The energy company is asking customers in the affected communities to continue to conserve electricity even after their power is restored.

Customers can report outages and check service restoration status at www.conEd.com/reportoutage, on ConEd’s mobile app, or by calling 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). When calling, customers should report whether their neighbors also have lost power.

Customers who report outages will receive updates with their estimated restoration times as they become available.

If your power has been out for more than 12 hours, you are eligible to file a claim online with ConEd for reimbursement.

Reach reporter Chandler Kidd at ckidd@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–2525. Follow her at twitter.com/ChanAnnKidd.

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