This morning thousands of Lower East Side residents still have no heat or hot water because Con Ed has been unable to bring steam service back online at more than 500 locations below 14th Street. A short time ago, the company reported on Twitter that “full restoration is expected Nov. 11 with some sooner,” adding “the steam system was badly damaged and cannot be safely returned until all water gone.”
Today State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Community Board 3 staff are on the phone with Con Ed trying to learn more about the situation. Tonight the temperature is expected to dip into the low 30’s and, of even greater concern to city officials, a nor’easter is poised to hit the region later in the week. Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg urged residents to seek refuge in neighborhood warming centers and shelters.
If you have no heat, 189 Allen Street and 334 Madison Street are the closest locations, but they are only open during the day (until 4 p.m.). Also, University Settlement’s Houston Street Center (273 Bowery) is offering free (and hot) showers until 4 p.m. The shelter at Seward Park High School is open 24 hours. Squadron said he’s working with local officials to get portable heaters for residents whose apartments lack steam service.
Some buildings don’t get their steam from Con Ed or they have electric heat. But many large complexes on the LES are dependent on the utility for heat and hot water. Among the large developments impacted: the Seward Park Co-op on Grand Street and the Campos Plaza public housing towers on East 12th Street.
UPDATE 12:42 p.m. It’s looking like the Seward Park Co-op could have steam restored by tonight or tomorrow.
UPDATE 2:06 p.m. Seward Park Co-op GM Frank Durant has sent an email to residents; it reads in part:
Con Ed is preparing to restore full steam (and therefore heat and hot water) to the coop. However, this is a necessarily long process, both for Con Ed and for the coop. Being highly variable, and it is difficult to know exactly how long it might take. Given what we know now, we hope to be completely back to normal in a day and a half, if not sooner. This is our best estimate at the moment; it might take longer… The reason it takes time to fully restore heat and hot water has to do with the difference in temperature between the pipes and the steam itself. Because the pipes have not had full steam these last few days, they cooled down. Therefore a sudden introduction of high pressure, high temperature steam would threaten to crack the pipes. Hence, the slow and gradual reintroduction of full steam. The same applies to our own pipes (at Seward Park). Nonetheless, it appears as though we are on the last leg of this severe weather event, at last.
This afternoon Con Ed executives are telling local elected officials that the process of pumping water out of the underground steam plant is a lengthy project that will take a few more days. But Con Ed technicians on the ground are obviously giving building managers different information. So we’ll see what happens and when.