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East Village Weathers the Superstorm

UntitledDaniel 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.

UntitledDaniel Maurer

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…

Smoking Manhole Rattles Union Square Commuters [Updated]

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…

Electrical Fire at Union Square Closes Off 14th Street

union square 2Melvin Felix
union square 3Melvin Felix

An electrical fire at the Union Square subway station led to the temporary closing of one block of 14th Street at around 2 p.m.

EV Grieve rounded up photos of the small blaze, which is in a grate beside a subway entrance on the south side of 14th Street between Broadway and Fourth Avenue. The fire was caused by a “service box failure,” a spokesman for Con Edison told The Local. A spokesman told Gothamist, which gathered tweets about the fire, that the cause was “a failure of electrical cables.” No injuries were reported. Read more…

Con Ed Protests Continue at Irving Place, and the Rumor Mill Heats Up

Councilmembers James and Mark-Viverito with Ms. PhillipsMelvin 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…

As Talks Resume, Con Ed Workers Rally Near Union Square

.Mary Reinholz

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…

The Day | Light

let us mingleUrmila Ramakrishnan

Good morning, East Village.

Last night, the sun aligned with the east-west streets at dusk, giving views of what is dubbed Manhattanhenge. The twice-a-year event only lasts about half an hour, but provides a look at the sun and the city that the Village Voice calls “magical.”  But don’t worry if you missed last night because the best viewing is this evening.

About 40 Con Ed customers who live near Great Jones Street were without lights Tuesday night during a power outage, according to the Con Ed site, which reports that power was restored this morning.

The renovations of Extra Place are nearing completion, with a recent installation of streetlights, EV Grieve noted.

Check back later today for James Traub’s exploration of Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar and a video report by Khristopher J. Brooks on the upcoming changes to rent laws.

More Details on Injured Con Ed Worker

ConEd mechanics fix broken gas lineIan 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.
Read more…

Con Ed Worker Stricken By Fumes

ConEd workers fix gas lineIan Duncan The site of the incident on 11th Street.

A Con Ed worker was treated by paramedics this afternoon after inhaling gas from a broken line, the authorities said. The incident occurred outside a seven-story residential building on 11th Street between Avenues A and B.

The Fire Department evacuated the building, according to staffers with the office of emergency management who were at the scene.

A private contractor was working on the line when it started to leak. But Con Ed is responsible for responding to emergencies of this kind.

The area was closed to vehicle traffic but open to pedestrians at 3:20 p.m. At 3:33 p.m., an ambulance was still parked on the street. The injured Con Ed worker was inside. He emerged from the front seat of the ambulance unaided, clutching his heavy blue work jacket and a half-empty bottle of orange Gatorade.

This post has been changed to correct an error; an earlier version misstated the site of the leak.

A View of the Fire

Fire 03/02Crystal Bell

Scenes from the fire at the East 14th Street Con Edison plant this afternoon were captured on video by local resident Chris Meckley, 30, who was in his apartment on East 10th Street between Avenues C and D.

Mr. Meckley told the Local, “I saw a bunch of smoke, so I looked outside and heard a loud explosion, like a big boom. It was really loud. I wasn’t really scared, and thought it might be cool to record it. Why not?”

The Con Edison fire from Chris Meckley on Vimeo.

No Injuries at Con Edison Fire

ConEd plant fireIan Duncan

A fire at the Con Edison plant on East 14th Street, which started at approximately 2:19 this afternoon when a tranformer caught fire outside the building, resulted in an “all hands” FDNY call. Heavy smoke conditions were reported to be affecting the FDR Drive. The fire was declared under control at 3:52.

According to Chief John Sarrocco, “There was an explosion in a transformer outside of the Con Ed building. The transformer has been de-energized and we put some foam on the transformer. No one was hurt.”

There were a total of 27 units, approximately 125 firefighters on scene, the authorities said.

From Students, Green Energy Lessons

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.