Tag Archives: Con Edison

Con Edison admin appointed next Real Estate Board of New York president 


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Real Estate Board of New York

A top Con Edison exec and former City Council chief of staff will take the helm as the next president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the organization announced Tuesday.

John Banks, vice president of government relations at Con Edison, will officially begin his new position next year after the current president, Steven Spinola, steps down.

Spinola, who has lead the association for three decades as its longest-serving president, believes Banks is a solid choice for the future of REBNY.

“I look forward to some busy months ahead as we continue to pursue a pro-growth agenda for the city while ensuring the smoothest possible transition at REBNY,” Spinola said. “I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of this organization under John’s guidance.”

Banks is coming to REBNY after 13 years at Con Edison, where up until recently he lead a staff of 38 employees to manage government and community affairs.

Banks severed as chief of staff for the City Council speaker from 2000 to 2002 before taking his role at Con Edison.

And prior to that, Banks, who has an economics and government bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and a master’s in public administration from Baruch College, was deputy director of the City Council’s finance division.

Banks sits on a number of boards for various organizations, including the MTA, the New York Public Library and Manhattan College. He served as a member of Mayor de Blasio’s transition committee.

“I look forward to working with the leadership of REBNY, its members, staff, the community and New York’s elected officials,” Banks said. “It is an honor to follow in Steve’s tremendous footsteps and build upon his accomplishments.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Underground fire breaks out in Astoria


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

A possible utility fire broke out underground in Astoria Thursday afternoon, causing evacuations in the area, fire officials said.

The fire started about 2:45 p.m. on 36th Street near 24th Avenue, according to the FDNY. No injuries have been reported, but nearby homes have been evacuated as a precaution.

The cause of the flames, which were coming up through the sidewalk, may be from an underground transformer, according to ABC New York,

Con Edison has been called to the scene to investigate.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

 

 

Assemblyman eyes vacant Ozone Park lot owned by ConEd for school parking


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder's office

Updated Friday, May 16 1:42 p.m.

A vacant lot in Ozone Park that has sat fallow for several years should be converted into a parking lot for teachers at a nearby middle school, an elected official said.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked Con Edison to allow teachers and parents from M.S. 137 to park in the lot across 98th Street from the school.

The extra parking space would do more than just make parking convenient for teachers and parents, Goldfeder said.

“Allowing access to the vacant lot for parking will help encourage parents to be more involved in student activities with their children,” Goldfeder said. “Every organization has a responsibility to the communities they are located in and a small gesture from ConEd will go a long way in easing parking congestion for residents of Ozone Park and parents visiting the school.”

Parents complain that the area is severely congested and “parking is often difficult,” Goldfeder said in a letter to ConEd.

“The vacant lot would be the perfect solution to the longtime issue of parking in the area for homeowners and allow the school extra space to host special events.”

For their part, ConEd will respond to Goldfeder’s request after the company considers the matter.

” We will review it and respond to him. We are also reaching out to him to discuss the matter,” spokesman Allan Drury said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Queens high school students vie for NYC robotics title


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Peter Beninati

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Nearly a dozen Queens high school teams are looking to terminate their rivals at the 14th Annual NYC FIRST Robotics competition.

The event is being held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center this Friday through Sunday, and the teams are competing to win a trip to the world championships.

Earlier in the year, FIRST, a mentoring organization that seeks to get students more involved in science and math, gave a mission to the competing teams. The high schools had to build robots that could hurl a two-foot yoga ball through a goal, which is seven feet in the air.

“It’s difficult because we find out the game, and then we have six weeks to build [the robot],” said Peter Beninati, a mentor for the student team at Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City. “During that time we are prototyping and trying to find out what works best with the resources that we have.”

What makes the competition challenging is that the team has to join with teams from other schools to make three-member alliances and compete  in a form of three-on-three robot basketball, combining a mix of sports with science and technology. The teams score points not only for successfully putting the ball in the goal, but also for passing and assists.

Another challenge for the students is that they have to raise money to build their machines and operate as clubs in the school.

The team at Queens Vocational has a robot that they are calling “the Big Green Machine,” for its color and size. It took $2,500 to create the robot, and the 31-member club has a budget of $15,000 for the year. The students received funding from sponsors, such as Con Edison and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Not only do you learn methods of mechanical engineering for building the robot,” Beninati said, “you also learn to make a team and it’s almost like running a business.”

The world championships will be held in St. Louis from April 23 to 26.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Woodhaven manhole fires injure five, damage two vehicles


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy State Senator Michael Gianaris

Five people were injured and two vehicles damaged in a pair of manhole fires in Woodhaven early Thursday morning.

The fire department responded to the blaze on 88th Road and 75th Street just before 1 a.m., officials said, and the flames were under control around 2 a.m.

The fires, which awoke residents, were caused by a failure in underground electrical wiring and equipment, according to Con Edison.

The victims were taken to Jamaica Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Senator Michael Gianaris rushed over to the area after the fire was put out. He said the smell of fire was still lingering in the air and the street was blocked off. Gianaris was concerned about the trouble with the electrical system.

“Unfortunately this is not our first experience with Con Ed having problems with their infrastructure,” he said. “It was a little bit too familiar.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and rain showers. High of 90. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the ESE in the afternoon. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible. Thursday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 73. Winds from the SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80% with rainfall amounts near 0.8 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Devil Science Theater 3000 Anniversary Party

Every Thursday for the past year, the audience at Devil Science Theater 3000 has played drinking games and loudly mocked some of the worst films ever made, vying to be “Director’s Worst Nightmare,” a title that comes with swag, microphone privileges and bragging rights. On Thursday, June 27 at Laughing Devil Comedy Club in LIC, DST3K will throw its anniversary bash by inviting all the Director’s Worst Nightmare winners to help destroy the year’s funniest scenes, short films and trailers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

NYC Council passes plans for NYPD oversight

New York City lawmakers have passed the most expansive plans in years to impose new oversight on the nation’s largest police force. Read more: AP

Paid sick time law passes in NYC, veto overridden

New York City is becoming the most populous place in the United States to make businesses provide workers with paid sick time, after lawmakers overrode a mayoral veto early Thursday to pass a law expected to affect more than 1 million workers. Read more: NBC New York

Queens residents: Con Edison is ruining our trees

Residents of certain sections of Queens have said their beautiful, tree-lined streets are being massacred, and the storms of the past year are not to blame. Read more: CBS New York

Accidental voicemail captures murder of Queens woman

A brutal murder caught on voicemail will be a key piece of evidence in an upcoming trial in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Starbucks baristas must share tips, high court rules

Starbucks baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors, but assistant managers are left out in the cold, the state’s highest court ruled Wednesday. Read more: AP

New U.S. school snack food rules clamp down on calories, fat

Snacks sold in U.S. schools must be lower in fat, salt and sugar, according to federal rules released on Thursday aimed at giving students more nutritious options and fighting childhood obesity. Read more: Reuters

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. High of 86. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Wednesday night: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 70. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: International Star Andy Statman Plays Mandolin and Clarinet

Considered one of the world’s premier mandolinists and clarinetists, the Grammy-nominated musician Andy Statman has played with everyone from Itzhak Perlman to Jerry Garcia. This concert on Wednesday, May 22 at LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College is part of a national tour in honor of Statman’s recent National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Anthony Weiner launches mayoral run

Anthony Weiner has officially kicked off his political comeback. Almost two years after resigning from Congress because of a Twitter sext scandal, the former Queens politician is running for mayor. Read more: The Queens Courier

Artists howl as developer moves to tear down Long Island City graffiti palace 5Pointz

Long Island City artists are demanding a local panel block a plan to tear down a world-renowned graffiti mecca to make way for a luxury housing project. Read more: New York Daily News

Gay couple, man assaulted in 2 Separate attacks hours after rally against hate crimes

A gay couple was attacked early Tuesday in SoHo and a man was beaten in the East Village, hours after thousands marched to protest the killing of a gay man and several other bias attacks that have shaken the community, officials said. Read more: NBC New York 

Senior citizens hit hard by high electric rates in New York City

The numbers are in. New Yorkers are dishing out double for what most of the country pays for electricity. And if Con Edison gets its way, the rates could jump even higher. Read more: CBS New York

Immigration fingerprint proposal would apply to NYC airports

As Congress works on a comprehensive immigration bill, a new amendment would require all foreigners to be fingerprinted when they leave the U.S. through the nation’s 30 busiest airports. Read more: NY1

FBI kills Fla. man linked to Boston bombing suspect

An FBI agent was involved in a deadly shooting connected to the Boston Marathon bombing case. Read more: NBC News

Rescuers comb Oklahoma tornado rubble for buried survivors

Rescue workers with sniffer dogs and searchlights combed through the wreckage of a massive tornado to ensure no survivors remained buried in the rubble of primary schools, homes and buildings in an Oklahoma City suburb. Read more: Reuters

15 new schools to open in Queens next fall


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office Flickr/Photo by Edward Reed

Education is expanding throughout the borough with 15 new schools opening this fall, announced Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“With our new schools and school leaders, we’ll continue to provide our children with the opportunities they deserve,” said Bloomberg.

Of the 15, two will be elementary schools, six middle schools, one school housing grades 6 through 12, three high schools, one transfer high school and two career technical and educational (CTE) high schools.

One CTE school opening in Long Island City, CTE Energy Tech High School, is partnering with LaGuardia Community College, Con Edison and National Grid to give students unique internship and apprenticeship opportunities outside of the classroom, as well as a rigorous curriculum, all to prepare them for a future in the booming energy industry.

“We want to give students opportunities [to participate] in hands-on problem solving, getting to know the industry, getting out and seeing what the work feels like,” said Hope Barter, Energy Tech’s principal-to-be.

The new CTE school will share a building with I.S. 204, and despite some opposition from parents on the co-location, Barter thinks the tech students’ undertaking can only benefit the neighborhood and the city.

“Having another engineering program is an incredible opportunity for our teens and for the community,” she said.
Energy Tech and other city CTE schools, all grades 9 through 14, will give students not only high school diplomas but also associates degrees.

“As a product of the New York City public school system, I know firsthand the importance of a solid technical education,” said Ken Daly, president of National Grid New York. “Our partnership with the Energy Tech High School supports National Grid’s ‘Engineering Our Future’ initiative to build a qualified and skilled workforce.”

Mainstream schools are also spreading across the city, including the new Hunters Point Community Middle School, where students will be given the opportunity to participate in interest-based programs as well as work through an accelerated curriculum.

“Everything is going to be very engaging,” said Sarah Goodman, the middle school’s principal. “I think we’re going to provide a combination of things that are really important – a strong set of foundational skills, and a curriculum in classrooms and advisories that’s going to expose kids to ideas, ways of thinking and possible career paths.”

Community leadership and organizational skills will also be one of the school’s focuses under Goodman’s leadership.

“The range of schools that’s opening is going to give students such a range of programs to choose from,” said Barter.“We’re all doing something different, and it’s always exciting to give students choices and options.”

Citywide, 78 new schools will serve nearly 10,000 students. Once the schools reach full capacity, that number will too grow to 32,000 students.

“The schools announced today will help us continue to ensure that all students – no matter their zip code – have access to high-quality education in New York City,” said Walcott.

 

New schools opening in Queens next fall

Elementary Schools:

  • Elm Tree Elementary School
  • East Elmhurst Community School

Middle Schools:

  • Corona Arts and Sciences Academy
  • Hawtree Creek Middle School
  • The Emerson School
  • Queens United Middle School
  • Hunters Point Community Middle School
  • Middle Village Prep Charter School

Middle/High School:

  • The Riverview School (District 75)

High Schools:

  • International High School for Health Sciences
  • Veritas Academy
  • Queens High School for Language Studies

High Schools/ CTE:

  • Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights
  • Energy Tech High School

Transfer High School:

  • Voyages Prep – South Queens

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Rising Stars of Queens honored


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

055-DSC_4165

The stars aligned last week when The Queens Courier honored 40 of the borough’s budding young professionals. “It’s awesome to be honored, and it’s humbling to be among these people,” said Eric Abrams, 26, digital media and membership associate for the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “I feel like I’m on my way up.”

Abrams — recognized for his work for the Chamber, including his part in securing a $100,000 grant to develop a mobile phone app for Queens tourism — shared the limelight with several other “Rising Stars” honored for exemplifying outstanding leadership skills in their chosen fields and communities.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Presented by Metropolitan Hospitality, the fifth annual “40 under 40” awards and networking event drew over 500 people and raised $2,500 in charity raffle funds collected to benefit the Hank Auffarth Family Center of The Child Center of NY and Morgan Center, a pre-school for kids with cancer.

“This makes me proud of my staff, the company and proud to work in Queens,” said Seth Taylor, 33, executive director at the 82nd Street Partnership. “It makes me think back to the work I’ve done and it reminds me of all the work to be done.”

On January 31, at the Caesars Club in Citi Field, event attendees networked with top professionals and mingled with representatives from leading businesses in the area, including this year’s event sponsors National Grid, TD Bank, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation, Delta Airlines, Queens Library, Con Edison, Flushing Bank, Council for Airport Opportunity, Queens County Savings Bank, Time Warner Business Class, Samuel Field Y, Sandwire, Crystal Window & Door Systems, Investors Bank and Ehren Joseph Studios.

Danielle Monaro, a co-host on Z100’s Elvis Duran & The Morning Show, received the “Star of Stars” award and was the night’s honorary emcee.

“I went to St. John’s University, so I feel like I grew up in Queens,” she said. “It’s just really nice to see how diverse the crowd is, how everybody comes together and supports each other. It really does mean a lot that I was chosen to be here. “

VIDEO: MEET THE 2013 “RISING STARS”

Monaro, a New Jersey resident, said she started her gig as a radio personality at St. John’s, where she did theater and WSJU Radio before graduating in 1995.

She helped honor fellow award recipients, including “Mentor of the Year” Bud Harrelson, a 1969 New York Mets World Series champion.

Also honored this year for their community work were Joseph Amodeo, development director for Quality Services for the Autism Community; Eric D. Abrams Digital Media & Membership Associate Queens Chamber of Commerce; Gerdie Rene Gordon, member, Cambria Heights Development Corporation; Seth Taylor, Executive Director, 82nd Street Partnership; Anahit Azatyan, manager of OKG Jewelry; Anokye Blissett, attorney at Law Firm of Russo & Blissett; Ricky Brava, senior partner at Apollo Financial Group; Ricardi Calixte, director of neighborhood economic development for the Queens Economic Development Corporation; Jennifer Colletti-Membreño, assistant director of development at Samuel Field Y; Elizabeth Culp, assistant vice president and branch manager at Roslyn Savings Bank; Paisley Demby, business services director at Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at LaGuardia Community College; Josh Fatoullah, president and founder of JR Wealth Advisors; Dr. Peter Feibish, orthodontist at Dynamic Dental; Christian Goode, CFO and SVP of Resorts World NY; Gerdie Rene Gordon, member of Cambria Heights Development Corporation; Tracie Hall, vice president of strategy and organizational development of library services at Queens Library; Matthew Jahrsdoerfer, audit principal at Grassi & Co; Isabella Leung, human resource manager at Crystal Window & Door Systems; Jennifer Matthews, NTC marketing and events for USTA National Tennis Center; Maria Messados, principal/insurance broker for Queens Medallion; Ann O’Connor, cultural collaborator at Zoescope Studio; Tony Rappaport, licensed sales associate at Greenthal Property Sales & Management; Michael Ratner, partner at Abrams, Fensterman; Jeffrey Reich-Hale, director of sales and marketing at Wyndham Garden LIC; June Reid, department manager at Delta Air Lines at JFK International Airport; Jeff Yanni, general manager at Delta Air Lines at LaGuardia Airport; Elias Roman, CEO and co-founder of Songza Media, Inc; Rick Rosa, executive vice president and managing director at Douglas Elliman; Frank T. Santoro, counsel at Farrell Fritz, P.C; Suzanne Shusteris, manager at TD Bank; Aravella Simotas, assemblymember of District 36; Kevin Skelly, assistant general manager at Clearview Golf Corp.; Silvia Tejeda, licensed real estate broker at Rapid Realty Astoria Inc.; Ebony Young, executive director of Long Island City YMCA; Jason Hilliard, executive director for Congressmember Gregory Meeks; Frank Russo III, manager of Russo’s on the Bay; Abbi Leman, communications director at CUNY School of Law; Andrew Barnes, manager at National Grid; Wafa Abboud, founder and CEO of Human First, Inc.; Chris Lynch, director of operations of Parker’s Medical Transportation Division for Lakeville Ambulette Transportation; and Jeffrey DeShields, mortgage development officer and team leader for Sovereign Bank. “I feel blessed. You can’t ask for anything better,” said DeShields, 39.

Creative Group, LLC and Delta Airlines provided the raffled-off Cancun trip, which included four nights and five days at the Ocean Spa Resort or the Laguna Suites and two round trip airfare tickets.
Broadway tickets, an HD TV, two Nets tickets to the TGI Suite at the Barclays Center and many gift certificates were also given away by exhibitors.

Guests also snapped pictures in a free photo booth sponsored by Investors Bank and snacked on free Nathan’s hotdogs and pretzels.

Danielle Monaro, co-host of the Z100 Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, talks about The Queens Courier Rising Stars event on her radio show. 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Agencies give Sandy testimony before City Council


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Nearly three months after the storm devastated the tri-state area, and with residents still trying to recover, the City Council has begun investigating how various agencies handled Sandy.

Testimony has been given by representatives of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the New York City Housing Authority, Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority, among other agencies.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich, when addressing OEM, inquired why the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department had been denied a request for a rescue boat, despite the anticipated flooding in the hamlet. Ulrich also asked why OEM had not looked at the Breezy Point Cooperative’s evacuation plan, or had better communication with the several volunteer fire departments of southern Queens.

OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno said commissioners had been on the ground working with volunteer fire departments on plans during the lead up to the storm and had always maintained communications between the volunteers and the FDNY. It was not the office’s policy to approve of other entities’ evacuation plans, he said, but OEM could give input for both cooperatives and volunteer fire departments in the future, he said.

Ulrich suggested to Bruno that once recovery is completely over, and some stability is back in the area, OEM officials begin to work with these waterside communities to better prepare for future storms.

“I think in the next year it might be a good time, when everything settles and the rebuilding starts and life gets somewhat back to normal, that OEM try to engage these communities and these fire departments.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Con Ed to invest $250 million to protect equipment against future storms


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Con Ed has announced that it will secure $250 million for protecting city infrastructure and maintaining reliable service for customers during storms such as Sandy.

“Our commitment would represent an initial infusion of preventive measures [and] we expect that even greater investments will be needed as regional discussions evolve over the coming months and years,” the company said in a statement.

Con Ed invests nearly $2 billion annually in electric, gas and steam systems, but this $250 million will be reserved specifically for measures that can help protect critical equipment from flood damage.

To execute these measures, Con Ed would raise electrical relay houses in substations, install stronger barriers and flood pumps, and potentially put major overhead power lines underground.

“Con Ed recognizes that, in order to withstand a Category 2 hurricane, it needs to significantly harden its . . . systems,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “As this planning work begins, we’ll also have to look to identify steps we can take immediately.”

Gov. Cuomo receives high marks for Sandy response


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

In a new Siena College poll, the majority of New York State voters said they were happy with how Governor Andrew Cuomo has handled the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

According to the results, 67 percent felt that the governor has done an excellent or good job, 22 percent said he has done a fair job and seven percent said he’s done a poor job.

In New York City, a slightly higher percentage, 70 percent, gave Cuomo a high rating.

In an effort to help with Sandy relief,  the  governor is travelling to Washington D.C. today to lobby for about $42 billion that the state needs to recover from the storm and protect itself from the next significant weather event.

State voters were almost as pleased with how President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg handled the superstorm.

Sixty-one percent said that Obama did an excellent or good job and 55 percent gave Bloomberg the same rating.

In a Quinnipiac University poll from two weeks ago, New York City voters thought that Obama did a better job than Governor Cuomo, but gave him higher marks than Bloomberg.

But in the same poll, voters also rated New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s handling of the storm and its aftermath higher than all three politicians.

The Siena poll did not ask state voters about Christie.

It did, however, ask about the utility companies, FEMA and the MTA.

The majority of voters were pleased with FEMA and the Metropolitan Transit Agency, but gave Con Edison mixed ratings.

Forty-nine percent said that Con Ed did a good or excellent job, while 29 percent said the utility did a fair job and 15 percent gave it a poor rating.

Voters were not as happy with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), which has received criticism on how it has responded to the storm.

Only one in six Long Islanders said LIPA did an excellent or good job with post-Sandy power problems, and 60 percent said it performed poorly.

The poll also asked about other aspects of Sandy, including how the storm affected voters—from home and business damage to school closings and power outages.

“Nearly one in seven voters suffered damage to their home, including one-quarter of downstate suburbanites. More than one-third lost their power, including more than eight in ten suburbanites.  And more than two-thirds of  New Yorkers saw their schools close for at least a day, and one-third had schools closed for at least a week,” said Siena pollster Steven Greenberg  “Not in a very long time has a natural disaster directly affected more New Yorkers than Sandy.

Additionally, the poll found that more than half of New Yorkers have made a financial contribution to a charitable organization raising money for those affected by Sandy, and 26 percent have volunteered their time.

The storm may have also forced New Yorkers to take global warming more seriously.

Because of Sandy and other significant storms from the last couple of years, 69 percent believe that they climate change is real.

Forums focus on frustrations after Sandy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY MAGGIE HAYES AND TERENCE M. CULLEN

Nearly a month after Superstorm Sandy tore through south Queens, tens of thousands of residents are still struggling to restore their lives.

Councilmember James Sanders and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder held separate forums with area residents, featuring representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Con Edison and National Grid, seeking answers as to when their towns would be able to get back on their feet.

“I want firm dates,” said Sanders before his meeting at Public School 104. “I want to know when we will be made whole. I want to know when we’ll be back.”

As of the meeting, held on Tuesday, November 20, more than 15,000 people were still without power, according to LIPA.

LIPA representative Tom Smith stressed that utility workers have been in the area around the clock, working to repair electrical grids to get power back up and running. But the problem lies with the fact that many electrical grids were completely submerged under water during the storm, and making sure they are completely repaired has become a safety concern.

“We recognize it’s a bad situation,” said Smith. “But we’re not looking to exacerbate it by creating a fire hazard in your home.”

That same Tuesday night, Goldfeder, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo, held their own forum at P.S. 146 in Howard Beach, where residents from the neighborhood and Broad Channel were vocal about some of the problems they still faced.

Many were irate, often yelling about response times, or walking out after hearing an unsatisfactory answer from officials.

“If I wasn’t the one standing in the front of the room,” Goldfeder said, “I would have been screaming just as loud because I’m equally as frustrated with the way things have gone over the last three weeks. I think what happened, people got a lot of answers, but not necessarily the answers they wanted or liked.”

Gary Robertson said his two homes in Hamilton Beach had lost power and he was forced to use generators to keep things running. He hired a licensed electrician to repair the homes, but was still awaiting Con Ed to come and install a new meter in one.

Robertson is most upset that he was told he would not receive reimbursement for the gallons of gas he poured into his generator, because, he said, he was told the outages were storm-related and not a direct outage by Con Ed.

“You spend all this money on everything else, you can’t get any answers,” he said. “I got answers basically from one representative that I saw and an electrician that I saw on my block.”

Another big concern for residents is with FEMA’s response time and communication.

Far Rockaway homeowner Cadim Ally has been working since the storm to repair the extensive damages to his properties – while at the same time cutting his losses.

Ally lives in one home in the area and rents out another. Both received significant water damage: Ally’s basement flooded and 13 inches of water rose above his first floor. Both houses were evaluated by FEMA.

“[My renter] had no home insurance, so they gave him a check for $9,500. He took the money, he’s gone,” said Ally.

When FEMA assessed the damages to his own home, because he is a homeowner, he was told to go through the Small Business Association to apply for loans. He did so, filling out all of the necessary paperwork, and after 10 days finally received an inspection. A loan officer will now re-evaluate Ally’s situation, and will either approve or decline his loan request. If he is denied, he will have to go back to FEMA and start his process over again.

“I’m actually sitting around every day, just waiting to hear. I don’t know what’s going on,” said Ally. “I’m filling out every piece of paperwork. I’m at a standstill.”

The need for a FEMA station in Howard Beach – and not just Broad Channel, where some cannot travel – was something Addabbo said came out of the P.S. 146 meeting. As a result, he and his colleagues are working to get an accessible FEMA center in the neighborhood.

“We got a commitment from FEMA, [we’re] just figuring out days and places,” said Addabbo.

Power is slowly being restored to the disaster areas, and residents are still doing the best they can do return to normalcy.

“We survived the storm. This was that 100-year storm,” said Sanders. “But can we do more? God willing, we can.”

Con Ed worker burned in Queens electrical accident


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Con Edison worker was burned in the face while responding to a reported outage at a commercial building in Maspeth Monday night, said the utility company.

The employee, who was testing equipment at 55-30 46th Street, near the corner of 55th Avenue, was injured in what a Con Ed spokesperson called an “electrical flash.”

Around 9:30 p.m. the worker was transported to New York Hospital Queens with serious but non-life injuries, said the FDNY.

Op-Ed: Sandy, a natural disaster – a man-made crisis


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY COUNCILMEMBER JAMES SANDERS

Superstorm Sandy was the worst natural disaster to hit the tri-state area in years. In its wake it left a trail of devastation that stretched from Montauk to Rockaway, upending trees, power lines, and lives in the process. More than 100 homes burned to the ground as the result of a fire, sparked when salt water hit an electrical box in Breezy Point. Staten Island was literally turned on its head, and parts of Brooklyn, Nassau, Suffolk, and of course, New Jersey, will take years to rebuild.

I have always worried that in the wake of a Katrina-like event, my 31st Council District would turn into New York City’s Lower 9th Ward. Throughout my district, we saw major flooding and the loss of homes. We saw downed trees and power lines that destroyed houses and cars. The famous and historic Rockaway bungalows were devastated. Some homeowners in Rosedale dealt with more than five feet of water in basements that crept up to first floors.

For all the physical devastation wrought by Sandy, the true crisis came after the storm, when hundreds of thousands of customers of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and Con Edison were without power, many for over three weeks. As of this writing, more than 300 LIPA customers were still without power, nearly a month after the storm. The loss of power created a crisis larger and deeper than was truly necessary, and caused a panic that affected everything from gas prices to the availability of food. Temperatures dropped and a snow storm hit, creating an even bleaker situation for tens of thousands who were still in the dark.

One of the most shocking and egregious aspects of Hurricane Katrina was how quickly government abandoned their constituents. Elected officials tasked with the responsibility of leadership, who were supposed to serve and meet the needs of their citizens, were the first ones to leave New Orleans and the last ones to return. I promised myself I would never let that happen if a major storm were to hit my district.

Two days after the storm, my Far Rockaway office was open. At first it was a makeshift operation. Having no power to function as a modern office, we started with a table, a note pad and a pen. Gradually, we morphed into an operation that took in and distributed supplies like food, clothing, batteries, flashlights, toiletries and other necessities. We went on TV and urged LIPA, FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard to expedite their operations in the Far Rockaway area of the peninsula, an area where their presence was lacking until just a week ago.

I’m proud to say that my office had a hand in serving, directly or indirectly, approximately 10,000 families in Far Rockaway. We were aided by the good will of Americans from every corner of our country that sent supplies, food, clothing and money.

There are many lessons we need to take away from Sandy. Never again can we allow a natural disaster to be deepened and prolonged by a lack of readiness on the ground. Never again can we allow our utilities tasked with keeping the lights on to essentially cease to function. When the lights went out, worry set in, leading to fear and eventually, to all out panic in a devastating cascade that made the aftermath of this storm worse than the event itself.

There is no doubt we are living in a new age, where major storms will be both more common and more severe. The litany of ways in which our society needs to advance if we are to see ourselves through this era would drag on far longer than the length of this column. Suffice it to say, we need to adapt to this new reality with better planning, better organization and more precision. We need to update and modernize our infrastructure and our power grids. We need a better plan for servicing those in hard-to-reach areas, and for shuttling people to safety. We need to take seriously the ever-growing threat of a changing environment and a modern world.

Sandy was a devastating storm, but it had ripple effects that were preventable if our society had been better prepared. We need to say no to man-made crises.