Hurricane Isaias created damage this week all along the Eastern seaboard, causing many residents, now working from home due to the pandemic, to lose power, WiFi, and cell phone service. New York’s governor is blaming more than just the storm for power outages as over 200,000 people and businesses in the Lower Hudson Valley were left in the dark on Wednesday, reported Lohud.
By midday Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo called for an investigation into the utilities’ response to the storm and declared a state of emergency for twelve counties, including all five boroughs of New York City. Westchester County was hit the hardest, where 93,281 customers lost power.
In addition, 911 services were impacted across several counties. According to Rockland Emergency Services coordinator Chris Kear, four 911 cell phone towers were operating on backup generators. Orange County’s 911 call services were down for 13 hours. Power also went out on a tower along Interstate 684 in Putnam County. When the backup generator kicked on, it caught fire, affecting cell service in the area.
“We know that severe weather is our new reality and the reckless disregard by utility companies to adequately plan for tropical storm Isaias left tens of thousands of customers in the dark, literally and figuratively. Their performance was unacceptable,” said Gov. Cuomo.
Thomas Lannon, director of Putnam County’s technology office, said, “Cell service across the county is negatively impacted for all carriers. We had reports that cell towers in this region (Putnam, Orange, Rockland, Passaic) were damaged during the storms. Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint would have to comment on anything additional.”
Gov. Cuomo called for the state’s public service department to “launch an investigation into the state’s utilities.” They include Verizon, PSEG Long Island, Con Edison, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Orange and Rockland Utilities, and New York State Electric & Gas, noted Lohud.
Lohud reported that utility crews are dealing with more than one-thousand downed wires and hundreds of broken poles. For instance, Con Edison dispatched 900 workers to restore power, getting 20,000 customers back up by 4 p.m. on Wednesday. According to the utility, the storm was its second-largest outage behind Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
With downed trees and live wires being guarded by police until crews could clear the way, many believe the utilities weren’t prepared. According to Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann, “We took the brunt of this, almost 90 percent of the town’s population was out of power at one point during the storm. We’re fed up…pretty disappointed.”
“Look, it’s a major storm,” he added, “but we have to get to a point where we have to stop telling people they’re going to be out for days. For the rates we’re paying, what is their plan to really fix some of these troublesome areas? What are they doing to make sure these resources are in place?”