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Greenburgh Citizens Discuss Ways To Avoid Future Crises

Greenburgh resident Pat Weems, standing, said Con Edison should be fined and punished for its poor performance after the storm. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer
Sue Mirialakis, center, of Greenburgh, said the Public Service Commission is under Con Edison's thumb. To punish Con Edison, the PSC needs to be unseated first, she said. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer
Tom Bock, vice president of the Fulton Park Civic Association, said Greenburgh officials should have learned from past storms and been more prepared before Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner listened to suggestions about how the town could learn from mistakes made during Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer
  • 2:15 p.m.: This story has been updated to include comments from Con Edison.

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Instead of playing the blame game, Greenburgh residents acknowledged that there are plenty of things citizens can do in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and Con Edison's slow power restorations for the future.

In the new citizens' committee founded by Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, Greenburgh residents offered their suggestions for both short- and long-term plans on how the town should react to the crisis that left some out of power for more than two weeks.

Those attending wrote their suggestions, which Feiner plans to send as a mass letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Public Service Commission and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Many town residents agreed that the long-term goal was to hold Con Edison accountable for their poor performance, while short-term needs included better communication within the town during an emergency.

New Castle Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter was among the roomful of attendees. She said that her town and others in Westchester County were all faced with the same problems.

"We needed more crews, and more crews sooner," Carpenter said. "That was the problem — they weren't there."

Con Edison officials, however, disagree with claims that the restoration efforts were slow. Despite complaints regarding the company's performance, an analysis shows that Con Edison's response time was actually typical — if not faster — than usual in comparison to other major storms such as Sandy, said Con Edison Public Affairs Manager Allan Drury.

"Our crews and thousands of mutual aid workers worked tirelessly to get people back in service as quickly and expeditiously as possible," according to a Con Edison statement.  "We're always looking for ways to do things better, and we certainly are open to constructive ideas from others for speeding restorations following storms."

Feiner hopes that the collection of letters will urge the PSC to take punishable action against Con Edison.

But some attendees also pointed out that in the meantime, there are things residents can do by themselves. 

For those receiving incorrect estimates on their electric bills, Greenburgh resident Louis Crichlow urged residents to check your meters and call the company with the actual numbers.

"They will have to send a re-adjusted bill," Crichlow said. "That will hit their pocketbooks right away."

Many also agreed that the town needs a unified emergency plan. Some offered suggestions like creating an emergency hotline committee that can provide information during a crisis. Others pressed for more help for the elderly and disabled - neighborhood captains, for example, could be designated to go door to door to check in on those they know will need extra help during a storm.

Feiner said that just as citizens came together for the meeting, he wants to rally other town officials to meet with Con Edison and PSC representatives to make sure someone pays.

"We have to make sure this never happens again," Feiner said. "I think if we work hard, we can make this succeed."


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