Daniel Maurer FDR Drive near East 10th.
East Villagers woke up to waterlogged cars, downed trees, limited cell phone reception, and an acrid smell in the air – a lingering reminder of a circuit-breaker explosion at the Con Edison plant on 14th Street that preceded a blackout affecting nearly all of Manhattan south of 39th Street.
Next to the facility, on 13th Street east of Avenue C, a half dozen people attempted to dry out and jump-start cars that had been underwater hours before, as other vehicles sat in garages where water still stood above tire level. On Avenue C, a Stuy Town resident tended to a Volvo with a smashed window. The man, who did not want to be named, said he had tried to drive the car out of an underground garage after he looked out of his apartment window and saw river water beginning to gush up Avenue C.
Within five to ten minutes, he said, the water was up to mid-thigh level. “I tried to get out of the garage and as soon as I hit the gate it was a wall of water,” he said. When he realized the water had reached his car window, he bailed out and waded through a chest-level “river,” dodging floating vehicles as he tried to get to shallower waters on 14th Street. “Cars were afloat. All I needed was one car to blow me into the wall. It was chaotic,” he said, adding that the scene became “9/11-like” when a circuit-breaker exploded at the Con Ed plant, just a block away, and plunged the neighborhood into darkness around 8:30 p.m. Read more…
Smoke gushing from a manhole at Broadway and 17th Street rattled commuters in Union Square this evening.
“A big boom and black smoke at the NE corner of 17th and Broadway,” tweeted the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. “It was NOT our truck blowing up. What’s going on?”
Others tweeted about an explosion, but a ConEd spokesperson said there was no explosion when the manhole started smoking at 5:30 p.m. He said there were no injuries or power outages as a result of the smoke, the cause of which is currently under investigation.
A fire department spokesperson said the smoke was quickly brought under control.
The event unnerved some already shaken up by this morning’s shooting near the Empire State Building. More photos…
Melvin Felix Left to right: Councilmember Letitia James, union member Carol Phillips, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito.
A couple of hundred demonstrators today continued to protest outside of Con Ed headquarters at 4 Irving Place, where unconfirmed rumors of on-the-job heart attacks bounced between union representatives and City Council members.
Paul Albano, a business agent for the Utility Workers Union of America’s Local 1-2 division, which represents over 8,000 workers locked out by the utility company Sunday, continued to insist that the 5,000 managers who have replaced the unionized workers are too inexperienced to properly perform maintenance and repairs. “We had people that witnessed management taking cones — as simple as cones — off the back of the truck, and because they’re so hot, they burned their hands and they dropped them,” he said. “You’re supposed to be using gloves on it. They don’t even know the basics of setting up a manhole.”
Con Ed told Reuters that since the lockout, four replacement workers had received injuries, none of them life-threatening. But Mr. Albano had heard otherwise. “We’ve heard of about five to seven management personnel getting hurt, anywhere from car accidents to flashes in the face and explosions,” he said, “and we’ve even heard two managers had heart attacks.” Read more…
Chanting slogans and waving flags, including one that read “Don’t Tread on Me,” at least 1,000 demonstrators massed this morning near the headquarters of Consolidated Edison at 4 Irving Place to support some 8,000 unionized employees locked out early Sunday morning.
The utility company and representatives of Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers of America resumed negotiations around noon today, assisted by federal mediators. Allan Drury, a spokesman for Con Edison, declined to give the location. Previous talks had been held in Rye, N.Y.
Meanwhile, demonstrations continued in the sweltering heat. “We’re here to show our support for the union,” said utility worker Damon Romanelli, 49. “I’ve been working for Con Ed only five years but there are guys here who have worked for them for 30 and 40 years and they locked us out. They want to cut back on our pensions and on medical. It’s not fair.” Read more…
A FDNY spokesman told The Local that at 8:02 p.m., a call came in regarding a transformer fire at the Con Edison plant at 14th Street and FDR Drive. According to the spokesman, a standard response team of 12 units comprising 65 firefighters was dispatched to the scene. “It doesn’t appear to be serious,” he said. (The cause of these types of fires is typically determined after an investigation by fire marshals.) EV Grieve has some shots from the scene as well as an eyewitness account: “big explosion, giant black plume of smoke, no flames.” A tipster tells Grieve that “most of the emergency crews” had packed up as of 9 p.m.
Check back here for any updates.
Good morning, East Village.
Rats. Lots of rats. The playground in Tompkins Square Park has turned into a haven for these unwanted critters, The Villager reports. In response to this growing problem, a new group, the Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents’ Association, made up of 175 neighbors recently banded together to confront this issue. As did the red-tailed hawk, as seen in photos posted earlier this week by EV Grieve.
In less threatening news — depending on your outlook — the World Naked Bike Ride takes off this weekend. The Local’s Laura E. Lee previewed the ride, which aims to bring attention the vulnerabilities and dangers associated with cycling in the city.
The ride is Sunday, when temperatures are expected to drop into the 80’s. Today and Saturday, however, the peak of the heat wave hits with temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. As we have been reporting the last two days, the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning, and cooling stations will be open today and Saturday. Find a cooling station here or by calling 311.
With the heat wave upon us, Con Ed is warning of potential scattered power outages, Gothamist reports. The power company recommends reducing energy consumption as much as possible, such as turning off air conditioners when away from home.
Ian Duncan One of the Con Ed mechanics at this site, Mike Dwyer, was treated by paramedics at the scene of the gas leak.
The Local has more details of the Con Ed mechanic treated for gas inhalation earlier today. He was Mike Dwyer, a 38-year veteran of the utility company, who worked at Ground Zero for 293 days after the 9/11 attacks. As a result of his work there and exposure to asbestos, he said, he has restricted airways.
Mr. Dwyer said paramedics were worried about his condition and offered him oxygen but he refused to go to the hospital. Instead, he intended to get back to work this afternoon and finish his shift at 11 p.m. this evening. A Con Ed spokesman said that Mr. Dwyer was back on duty at precisely 3:51 p.m.
“I was responding to a gas emergency, I was doing what I had to do,” said Mr. Dwyer, who is 60. He wears long gray hair scraped into a pony tail and wore heavy blue overalls, despite the heat. He spoke to The Local as he sorted tools in the back of a Con Ed emergency van.
Update | 3:54 p.m. Firefighters are working to put out a blaze at the Con Ed plant at 14th Street near Avenue D. Fire officials said that the blaze began at 2:19 and that it has gone to two alarms with an “all hands” call for more firefighters. Reporters from The Local are on the scene and we will bring you a fuller post when more information becomes available.—Crystal Bell
A non-profit group specializing in sustainability has appointed a half-dozen high school students to act as green energy consultants to small businesses here in the East Village. Envirolution is currently teaching interns — students from Manhattan Comprehensive Night and Day High School on Second Avenue near 14th Street — energy efficiency and weatherization skills to share with local shopkeepers.
The program is linked to Con Edison, and began in the East Village.
NYU Journalism’s Liz Wagner caught up with a group of students as they canvassed the neighborhood on a recent Saturday.
Tania Barnes The owners of Whatever Tattoos, at 17 St. Marks Place, installed new, energy-efficient bulbs in April.
A push by Con Edison to reduce energy consumption across the city is placing a special emphasis on the East Village.
The Avenue A Project is a program sponsored by the utility that offers local businesses free energy-efficient bulbs and other upgrades to reduce power usage. But, according to Con Ed officials, the response so far has been less than stellar.
In 2008, Con Ed asked energy consultants with Comverge Inc. to help reduce power consumption in the neighborhood by about 5 megawatts by 2012. That’s roughly equivalent to the energy that would be used if a 60-watt incandescent light bulb were placed in every seat at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
Despite such inducements as the lightbulbs and upgrades to heating and cooling systems, local businesses have mostly deflected the overtures of consultants. After two years, Comverge has managed to shave off 1.4 megawatts of power usage in the area.
Washington Teran, a consultant with Comverge, attributed the unenthusiastic response to mistrust by some business owners.
“It’s a lot of rejection,” Mr. Teran said, describing his efforts to canvass the neighborhood. “People think it’s too good to be true.”