Blackout continues to plague New York

Published July 23, 2006

NEW YORK - The damage to a utility's underground network in the borough of Queens is greater than imagined - a twist in the six-day power outage that could mean electricity won't be back for several days, New York's mayor said Saturday.

"It'll be done when it's done," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

To hasten the restoration of power to as many as 20,000 customers, or about 80,000 people, electrical crews from as far away as Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio, were on their way to New York to help, Bloomberg said.

Thunderstorms Friday hindered efforts to repair the series of electrical failures and knocked out some repaired circuits, Bloomberg said.

Consolidated Edison crews "are going manhole to manhole, pulling up every line," the mayor said. As workers inspected underground cables and transformers, they "found more damage than they thought they would find. They were surprised."

Power has been out for some residents and businesses since Monday.

A series of heavy-duty circuits supplying an area in northwest Queens failed Monday evening, hours after the state set a record for electricity use. As temperatures rose to 100 degrees, more circuits failed Tuesday. Some residents found their own solutions. One barber set up a generator on the street and cut hair on the sidewalk.

"It's very dark and you can't really see inside," said Hair Fantasy owner Rocco Aliberti. "It's very bad. We try to do as much as we can do. I've got to pay bills."

Con Edison hasn't been able to explain why the power distribution system failed.