Superstorm Sandy started as a late-season hurricane in the Caribbean, killing 69 people, before hitting the United States. It is said to be the largest storm to have hit the US in decades. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover 100 percent of emergency power and public transportation costs through November 9 for affected areas of New York and New Jersey, up from the traditional share of 75 percent.
However, some residents may lack electricity for weeks. New York utility Consolidated Edison restored power to 250,000 customers, but over 650,000 are still waiting. The vast majority will be restored by the weekend of November 10-11, but "the remaining customer restorations could take an additional week or more," the company said.
Whereas Cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp said about half of its 3.3 million customers in the New York, Connecticut and New Jersey area had lost power.
The lack of electricity and severe gasoline shortages are hindering cleanup efforts. With the mass-transit systems barely functioning, commuters are left to go about on foot for long distances. Long lines of cars waiting for gas have become a common sight. With many stations running ran out of fuel or without electricity to operate their pumps, the situation is becoming dire.
The question looming in every one’s mind is why is it taking so long to restore the power and gas supply?
Experts suggest practices like underground cables, smart grid technology and tree trimming (downed limbs caused up to 90 percent of power disruptions for some utilities during Hurricane Sandy) to make future outages end sooner. Underground cables however, are costly do have a chance of getting flooded. It would help however to move the electric connections to those cables above flood level. This is the model for the Goldman Sachs and it was one of the few buildings with their power intact. The combination of underground cables with a rooftop connector is what kept Goldman Sachs lit up during Sandy.
According to policymic, New York has one of the oldest grid systems in USA and the fact that several utility companies have merged into one making ConEd have a monopoly over New York City’s electric supply doesn’t help.
And let’s face it, restoration on such a large scale doe s take time. As ConEd puts it quite openly, “Restoring electrical service to underground equipment demands cleaning all components of sea water, drying and testing to make it safe to restore power.”
The company is also turning on the power in stages, according to need, starting with hospitals and nursing homes and the most populous areas before moving onwards.
All one can do under the circumstances is sit and wait it out-Making the best of an unfortunate situation.