Many in Alphabet City and Stuyvesant Town Still in Dark, Cold

IMG_1512[1]Daniel Maurer Stuy Town

While the lights came on for most of the East Village Friday, and bars and restaurants wasted no time breaking out the bubbly, many in the neighborhood are complaining they’ve been left in the dark – and the cold.

Several apartment buildings and at least one restaurant were still without power on Avenue C and in Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town this evening, and many others had no heat or hot water.

Around 6 p.m., seven workers were standing around a manhole on Avenue C near Eighth Street — their thirteenth job of today — waiting for the water to go down so they could check the lines. They had pumped out a little over four feet of water with about a foot more to go.

Workers from Pepco, an electric company in Washington D.C., have been working twelve hour shifts in Manhattan since Wednesday. “Con Edison sends us to a location to check the power in the buildings, and we see what we can do to restore it,” said Brian Vaeth, an underground foreman. “We’re pumping a lot of water, and doing a lot of checking of the lines for what’s hot, what has electricity, and what doesn’t.”

IMG_1507[1]Daniel Maurer In Stuy Town, kids play soccer near downed tree.

Workers are also going from block to block and into meter cabinets to see if breakers or meters are damaged. Mr. Vaeth hoped the power would be on by the end of this weekend, but he admitted, “We’re going to be here for a while.” His crew was joined by workers from Duke Energy, an electric company in Cincinnati, Ohio, also trying to help troubleshoot problems. More than 2,000 utility workers from as far away as California are working in New York City and Westchester County, according to Con Ed.

A block away, Kafana, a Serbian restaurant that lost about $3,000 of food in the wake of Sandy, still didn’t have power. Vladimir Ocokoljic, the owner, pointed to his building and the one next door. “Other tenants with kids don’t have power, but they do have heat and hot water,” he said, admitting his life would be a lot easier if he could use his dishwasher and other amenities. “I’m not planning on being open tomorrow. If I get power, maybe Tuesday.”

Electricity returned to Zum Schneider, at 107 Avenue C, around 2 p.m. today, said Sylvester Schneider, the owner. “I’m excited the power is back on,” he said, “The downside to it is we’ve found out what’s working and what’s not.” The big discovery: his two main refrigerators are dead. Zum Schneider was open for business as of yesterday afternoon and relied on generators for evening light.

IMG_1508[1]Daniel Maurer Tree damage in Stuy Town.

John Coca, a resident of the Jacob Riis Houses on East 12th Street and Avenue D, said his power returned yesterday evening. But while he had hot water, he had no heat. According to Mr. Coca, who is renovating Babel Lounge and Hookah Bar on Avenue C, which had power, a landlord has to hire someone from a private company to make sure it’s safe to turn on a boiler.

This evening, the apartment building at 133 Avenue C had no power, no heat, and no hot water, while the apartment building at 129 Avenue C had power, no heat, and no hot water. There was a mishmash of lighting in the vicinity: some buildings on Avenue C had power in the stairwells, others did not.

Ashley Tucker’s apartment building on Avenue C and East Eighth Street had no power, but the lights were on in the hallways. Her heat was turned on today, but she had no hot water. Ms. Tucker, a second-year student at CUNY School of Law was on her way to a neighboring friend’s fully powered apartment to do her coursework. “I can’t do it by candlelight,” she joked.

Ms. Tucker took a can of microwaveable soup with her, since her friend had no cooking gas or heat. “This whole week has been exhausting,” she said, “Shuffling around sleeping at friends’ apartments, and coming back to the neighborhood to help clean up.”

Shortly after 6 p.m. today, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town announced that it had restored electricity to 37 buildings, with 17 buildings expected to regain power sometime in the next 48 hours. 31 buildings were expected to regain heat within six days, and 31 were expected to get hot water again in the same time period. A handful of buildings were still without cooking gas.

“Additional buildings regained power yesterday and today, though several of those buildings had issues, particularly with elevator outages and certain apartment lines remaining without electricity,” read this evening’s update. “This is due to issues ConEd is having with their power distribution system. Full electrical service from ConEd has not yet been restored in these buildings.”

In addition to a spreadsheet kept by management regarding the status of heat, gas, water, and electricity, Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town tenants kept their own Google doc tracking the status of WiFi and cell service, and correcting seeming errors in the official matrix. One note, from a tenant of 540 East 20th Street, read, “Finally got phone back with a landline. Great thing considering there’s no cell reception in this void! No electricity. No heat. It’s only getting colder. Come on Stuy Town! I know you’re working hard but this just isn’t fair!”

Con Edison said its steam system, which brings heat and hot water to many buildings, was badly flooded below 14th Street, but it hoped to fully restore service by Nov. 11, with systematic restorations beginning tomorrow.

In the meantime, with temperatures dropping, the city opened overnight warm shelters for residents without heat.

Correction Nov. 8, 2012: The original version of this post was revised to reflect an error. John Coca is renovating Babel Lounge and Hookah Bar but is not the owner.