ASTORIA, Queens (PIX11) — Nearly 600 families in Queens had no electricity to power up air conditioners, or keep their perishable foods cool on one of the hottest days of the year, so far.
The same was the case for more than 3,000 customers at the Gun Hill Houses and Locust Point neighborhoods in the Bronx on Thursday.
Also, for most of the day, Con Edison asked nearly 85,000 customers across nine neighborhoods in central Queens to cut back on electricity usage in order to ensure that the power grid could support all customers’ needs. It all underscores how challenged our region is in providing electricity when it’s needed most.
The blackout in Astoria was on 34th Street between Broadway and 31st Avenue. It’s a long block, with most of its 600 or so families sitting out on their stoops, or in lawn chairs on the sidewalk Thursday morning, as Con Ed crews worked in the manholes in the street, trying to restore electricity.
“This is hot, and it’s dangerous,” said Aaron Fryson, as he and his son walked their dog down the street, waiting in vain for the power to come back on.
They were among the many on the street who had to leave their windows wide open, in darkened houses. It was the only form of cooling they had, with temperatures in the mid-90s for most of the day.
“I got breathing issues,” said Michael Aviles, Sr., as he sat on the stairs in front of his house during the noon hour. “That’s why I’m outside. They said [the electricity would] be back by 2 or 3 [in the afternoon]. Let’s hope.”
His hopes ended up being somewhat dashed: 2 p.m. came and went, and so did 3.
Around 3:30 p.m., about two-thirds of the homes that had been without power for about 14 hours got it restored. It left the other one-third without relief from the swelter, and even people who got their electricity back remained worried.
“I say, ‘Oh my God,'” Luchia Pesa said, while sitting on her stoop before the power came back on. “I bought yesterday my food — $100. I don’t know what [will] happen now.”
A Con Edison spokesperson told PIX11 News that it reimburses people for losses if they go without power for more than 12 hours within a 24-hour period. That was definitely the case for the families in Astoria. The utility said that the customers have to file a claim, here.
The heat wave is set to continue through the weekend, with Thursday’s scorching conditions expected to get even more intense through Sunday.
That’s why Tonya Juge and other residents expressed concern that the blackout she had to deal with on her block on Thursday could be worse for other people in the region, in the days ahead.
“Y’know, we’ve got six more days of this heat,” she said. “So we’ll see what happens.”
For most of the day on Thursday, Con Ed had asked about 85,000 customers in the Queens neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst, Fresh Meadows, Jamaica Estates, Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills, Kew Gardens, Pomonok and Hillcrest to cut back on power usage, in order to try and keep the power grid providing adequate service.
On Thursday afternoon, Con Ed said that the effort had been successful. It rescinded the conservation order. Still, a Con Ed spokesperson said, the utility encourages customers across its service area in the five boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester County, to conserve as much electricity as possible, always.