‘They’re doing it as fast as they can’: Bloomberg on restoring electricity to public housing

Bloomberg in Far Rockaway. (via NYC.gov)
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Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, six public housing buildings with some 1,000 residents still have no electricity, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg this afternoon was on the defensive.

"They're doing it as fast as they can," said the mayor, speaking to reporters in the Rockaways. "And I can tell you, when I've talked to other people who are experts, and not people that just criticize for a living ... they say that these people are the best they're ever seen and they're working as hard as they can. And I don't think anybody else could have brought back this number of buildings in this period of time."

According to Bloomberg, three of the public housing buildings without electricity are in Red Hook, and the other three are in Coney Island.

He said these remaining six buildings would be connected to the electrical grid "within the next couple days," but that heat and hot water would take longer.

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There's been some discussion in recent days of ways in which Con Edison and other utilities can prevent such outages in the future, and this morning Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined the conversation, proposing that Con Edison bury their above-ground power lines.

The mayor today said he doesn't think that's particularly feasible, much as he doesn't think sea walls are feasible.

"Well, it would be much better if everybody's wires were buried," he said. "I don't know where the money would come from."

("Moving power lines underground can cost as much as $2.1 million per mile in a city, with an average of $832,383 a mile in urban areas and $723,692 in suburban areas, according to a 2009 study conducted by the trade group," according to a recent Bloomberg News article.)

In other news, the mayor today said the city's gas rationing scheme, implemented last week, will endure for at least another five days, but that things do seem to be improving on that front.

In contrast to last week, when only one in four gas stations was open, the mayor today estimated 60 percent were now pumping fuel.

The mayor made his remarks at a press conference unveiling a program called NYC Restore designed to better connect city residents still recovering from Hurricane Sandy with city, federal and non-profit assistance.

By later this week, residents will be able to visit seven NYC Restoration Centers in Far Rockaway, Gravesend, Coney Island, Staten Island, Red Hook, Breezy Point and Throggs Neck-Pelham Bay.