Lights in lower Manhattan, misery in outer regions

By JOCELYN NOVECK and MICHAEL RUBINKAM Published: November 4, 2012
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He cited the need to restore power; pump out water, particularly from electric substations; ensure that basic needs are addressed; remove debris; and get federal resources in place to help transportation systems come back on line.

About 2.6 million people remained without power in six states after Sandy came ashore Monday night.

About 900,000 people still didn't have electricity in the New York metropolitan area, including about 550,000 on Long Island, Cuomo said. About 80 percent of New York City's subway service has been restored, he added.

The restoration of power beat the sunrise Saturday in the West Village, though just barely. Electricity arrived at 4:23 a.m., said Adam Greene, owner of Snack.

“This morning, I took a really long hot shower,” he said.

Greene said one woman had stopped in Saturday to drop off $10 for the staff, saying she regretted she didn't have enough cash to tip adequately during the blackout.

He joked that 28th Street, above which had power, was like “Checkpoint Charlie.”

“You crossed 28th Street and people were living a comfortable life,” Greene said. “Down here it was dark and cold.”

Throughout the West Village, people were emerging from their hibernation, happy to regain their footing. Stores started to reopen. Signs at a Whole Foods Market promised that fresh meat and poultry and baked goods would return Sunday.

At O Cafe, a favorite neighborhood coffee shop, owner Fernando Acier was thrilled when his phone rang just after 8 a.m., while he was still in bed, with news that the power was back. Within an hour, he had summoned staff who lived in Manhattan, and his business was humming.

“People came, craving something hot to finally feel they're home after days of no light, no heat, no food, no nothing,” Acier said.

“This is our neighborhood, and people here don't like going uptown. But they were forced to go,” he said.

Julia Strom, 53, a singer and composer, said she had never left her West 10th Street brownstone. She not only survived in candlelight, but spent three full nights taking care of a woman in her 90s whose caregivers could not come into the city. On Saturday, though exhausted, she said tending to the elderly woman had been “a privilege; it heightens and beautifies life.”

Aida Padilla was thrilled that the power at her large housing authority complex in New York City's Chelsea section had returned late Friday.

“Thank God,” said Padilla, 75. “I screamed and I put the lights on. Everybody was screaming. It was better than New Year's.”

Asked about whether she had heat, she replied, “hot and cold water and heat! Thank God, Jesus!”

Some lower Manhattan residents, however, were still without steam heat.

Michael Cornelison, 42, who works in IT, was glad power was back in his downtown apartment. But he said he had taken advantage of the darkness too.

“It was nice to disconnect this week,” Cornelison said. “I slept a lot.”

He'd stocked his Soho apartment with food and padded his freezer with ice packs - to keep the apples pies he baked.

And he watched movies on his laptop, including “Hurricane in the Bayou.”

Most people on Staten Island were still without power altogether, and there was grumbling that the borough was a lower priority.

“You know it's true,” said Tony Carmelengo, who lives in the St. George section of Staten Island and still does not have electricity.

Added his neighbor, Anthony Como: “It's economics. Manhattan gets everything, let's face it.”



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