* Around 25 percent of NYC customers without power
* Some of city's toniest neighborhoods in the dark
* Explosion at Con Edison Manhattan power station
By David Sheppard and Scott DiSavino
NEW YORK, Oct 30 Residents of lower Manhattan
faced up to four days without power on Tuesday as Consolidated
Edison, New York City's power provider, scrambled to
repair the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
Almost every street below Times Square in the city's Midtown
district was plunged into darkness on Monday night after an
explosion at a Con Edison power station on 14th Street threw the
electricity provider's plans for controlled shutdowns into
The prolonged blackout in the most populous and wealthiest of
New York City's five boroughs is in stark contrast to last
year's Hurricane Irene, when the island of Manhattan was largely
spared the power cuts that hit the surrounding region.
Almost 250,000 homes and businesses on Manhattan were
without power as of 2pm EDT on Tuesday, Con Ed said, more than
the total outages in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx combined.
The vast majority of those were below 39th Street in Midtown.
The figures cover buildings rather than individuals, meaning
the total number of people affected will be far higher.
"This is the largest storm-related outage in our history,"
said Sara Banda, a spokeswoman for Con Edison.
"We try to restore lines that will get power to the most
customers possible, but it will depend on the equipment."
Con Edison said it estimated customers served by underground
electric equipment, like in Manhattan, should have power back
within four days.
Banda said customers affected by the explosion at the East
River power station should be among those. Some customers may
see power restored sooner, but on Tuesday Con Edison appeared
keen to manage expectations.
It was not clear if the explosion was caused by the near-14
foot (4.2 meter) storm surge or by something else.
Remarkably, no one was injured in the huge explosion that
was captured on video by residents of Brooklyn and put on
Customers served by overhead power lines could be without
power for at least a week, Con Edison said.
In total, around a quarter of New York City's buildings are
without power as of Tuesday afternoon.
THE NEW BLACKOUT
The area below Times Square, includes some of Manhattan's
trendiest -- and wealthiest -- neighborhoods.
In areas like Tribeca, Chelsea and Gramercy Park that are
popular with celebrities, the fashion world, hedge fund managers
and media figures, two bedroom apartments routinely rent for
more than $6,000 a month according to New York City rental
website nakedapartments.com. That is more than $5,000 above the
average monthly rent across the nation.
Beyond the power cuts, damage was relatively limited around
the West Village. Some scaffolding had fallen down in the area
and maintenance men were in the process of cleaning up.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hudson River Park from Houston Street
to 14th Street, people were trying to get back to normal. The
park was filled with hand-holding couples, joggers and owners of
high-maintenance pets. Many people looked like they were
enjoying an unexpected day off.
Outages on Manhattan outstripped the 180,000 in the
the suburbs of Westchester County to the north of the city,
where overhead power lines normally mean it is more exposed to
storms than the island's largely subterranean electricity
A further 109,000 homes and businesses in Staten Island were
without power, Con Edison said. Across the Hudson River, almost
two-thirds of New Jersey's residents were enduring black outs,
according to the Department of Energy.
In total, over 8.2 million homes and businesses lost power
in the United States because of Sandy, the DOE said. The
blackouts stretched from North Carolina to the Canadian border
and as far inland as Ohio and Indiana.
In seven states, including Pennsylvania and Connecticut, 20
percent or more of all customers were without power.