Written by: Brian J. Howard
YORKTOWN — Police and fire officials were as frustrated as homeowners dealing with the power companies following two recent storms that slammed the region.
“What we don’t get help from is the utilities, and it’s very frustrating,” Yorktown police Chief Daniel McMahon told emergency responders, elected officials and power company executives.
State Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, convened the panel Thursday to discuss what was learned during the storms, what can be done better and how all parties can work more effectively together.
The biggest complaint was trouble communicating with and getting a response from NYSEG and Con Edison.
“I don’t feel that my staff should be reporting three, four, five times the same outage,” McMahon said.
Tropical Storm Irene in late August and the surprise October nor’easter left thousands of homes without power and many roads impassable for several days.
It wasn’t until the third day after the nor’easter that Con Edison sent a worker to tour the town with police and issue work orders that the town could track, Yorktown police Officer Larry Eidelman said.
The liaison from New York State Electric & Gas Corp., Yorktown’s other utility, didn’t know the area and could do little more to expedite repairs than the police themselves, said Eidelman.
“From a results standpoint, that was frustrating for us,” he said.
The town’s two fire chiefs and its highway superintendent echoed the complaint.
They called on the utilities to assign someone during storms to identify for repair any downed live wires, their biggest obstacle to opening closed roads.
It’s too dangerous for their personnel to do anything but wait, sometimes days, for utility crews, they said.
Anthony Torphy, director of electric operations emergency management, said Con Edison already has a program to provide such aid.
“We’re committed to making that plan better and working with police and fire officials and first responders,” Torphy said.
NYSEG Regional Manager Jim Salmon said utilities often face conflicting priorities during storm response. He also urged municipalities to let crews work quickly and move on without getting bogged down with requests for lower priority repairs.
Yorktown Councilman Nick Bianco echoed the aggravation of many on hand.
“We need to know why this is occurring, and don’t tell me it’s bad storms,” Bianco said, “because we’ve had storms in my 30 years living here, and it seems to be getting worse not better.”
Suzanne Stein of Oakwood Court threw out all her food after both storms and said Con Edison just told her to call her insurance company, Stein said she wants more accountability than that. (ARTICLE)
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