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UPDATE- 35,000 still in dark from Sandy

Bronx Times

Large areas of the Bronx remained in the dark Thursday as it continued to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

The unwelcome visitor blew through the borough Monday night into Tuesday morning, leaving it with a wet, sloppy kiss.

Packing gale force winds and driving rain, she downed trees and signs, flooded streets and basements and left 60,000 Con Edison customers without power.

No serious injuries, thankfully, were reported.

As of Thursday afternoon, Con Ed said power had been restored to 25,665 customers, with another 34,615 still in the dark.

The blackouts occurred largely along the eastern and western edges of the borough.

Some still powerless areas, including Morris Park and City Island, were complaining that nary a Con Edison truck was to be found.

“We have thousands of employees working around the clock throughout our entire service teritory” said Con Ed spokeswoman Sara Banda. “Our strategy for restoring service is to work on equipment that will restore service to the greatest amount of customers at once. We in turn work our way to smaller groups and then individual customers.”

Those with underground electric equipment should have power back by the weekend, while restoration to all customers served by overhead power lines will take longer. That would most likely affect customers in the residential neighborhoods in the east Bronx, with numerous overhead power lines, many of them downed by falling trees.

In areas with overhead wires many roads were blocked by fallen trees or flooded. Restoring electrical service to underground equipment demands cleaning all components of sea water, drying and testing to make it safe to restore power.

Hena Barbaros of Morris Park, along with others, complained on Thursday that she didn’t see any utility trucks around her neighborhood.

She and her father stopped by a darkened Pathmark supermarket near the Hutch Metro Center, where Con Ed staffers handed 15,000 pounds of dry ice.

Con Ed’s Banda responded that “While they may not see a truck, it does not mean that we are not working.”

The massive storm announced its arrival early Monday morning with light winds and rain after wending its way up the Atlantic, skirting the eastern seaboard before veering northwestward into southern New Jersey with howling gale force winds.

By afternoon, the un-ladylike Sandy was throwing strong right hooks at the borough and rest of the city, sending it against the ropes. By 10 p.m. it was knocking it to its knees with howling winds and torrential rains.

Firefighters hampered by the strong winds could only slow down a raging fire that destroyed a popular City Island seafood restaurant - Tony’s Pier.

Borough officials were still trying to tally the estimated cost in physical damage and lost business to the Bronx.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. was in contact with local electeds throughout Monday and Tuesday, receiving assessments. He did a full tour of the borough on Tuesday, said a spokesman.

There were no immediately estimates of how long the cleanup effort would take, but most agreed it would be much sooner than the one from the 2011 Halloween nor’easter that came crashing in a year to the day - Oct. 29 - with a major snow storm that paralyzed the borough and city for days.

Sandy’s crash landing forced many residents in designated prime evacuation zones, including all of City Island, as well as areas of Throggs Neck, Harding Park, Edgewater, Clason’s Point and waterfront stretches of the South Bronx, to seek shelter with friends and family.

Emergency evacuation centers reported light numbers coming in, mostly homeless people.

But a large number of stubborn souls refused to flee, including Luzy Leon, 43, an accountant living off Pennyfield Avenue in Throggs Neck - in a prime Zone A evacuation zone.

“I wish I’d have evacuated. The whole block was flooded. It looked like a river,” said Leon, who found herself and her cats forced to live by candlelight with power gone.

An estimated 60% of City Islanders, with longtimers known as clam diggers, dug in to ride out the storm, which turned the small island community in a mini-Venice.

The peak surge of flooding hit the island around midnight, since water that has entered Long Island Sound around Montauk takes about four hours to make its way to parts of the city on the Sound.

High winds that flung pleasure boats around like toys at local marinas also hampered firefighters battling a three-alarm blaze that broke out at Tony’s Pier Restaurant at the foot of City Island Avenue.

The same winds sent a familiar sign with a giant red lobster crashing into the roof of The Lobster House restaurant just after the City Island Bridge.

Joanne Pheat, a Harding Park homeowner since 1968, came back from her daughter’s home on Tuesday to find “devastation.”

Her home on the tip of Long Island Sound was left virtually unlivable, with plastic containers, books and pictures of loved ones strewn about and a shed ripped open by floodwaters.

Meanwhile, staff at the Bruckner Bar & Grill in Mott Haven were shocked to find their trendy restaurant soaked by Sandy.

Bar manager Joseph Diaz estimated it lost at least $25,000 in food and alcohol inventory.

“Where we keep our liquor we have to throw it out because it could be contaminated,” said Diaz.

Public transit came to a standstill, with limited bus service returning Wednesday as workers struggled to return to their jobs.

Public schools remained closed through Friday, Nov. 2.

To report downed power lines, outages, and check service restoration status, customers can go on computers or mobile devices to www.coned.com. They also can call 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

With Patrick Rocchio

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group