Record Heat Pushes Utilities to the Limit

Heat wave claims its first life: a 46-year-old woman from Queens

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A hot, steaming, stinking day in the heat on Long Island, seen through the eyes of News 4 New York's Greg Cergol

    The heat wave that shows no sign of letting up has claimed its first death in New York City as utilities struggle to keep up with the demand for electricity and thousands suffer without power.

    A Queens woman, 46, died Tuesday night after succumbing to the heat, despite the extensive work of doctors trying to save her. Her body temperature had reached 108 degrees, officials said.  As of 1 p.m., the city's 311 line fielded 27,000 heat-related calls, according to the mayor's office.

    Consolidated Edison said it was working to restore power to about 6,300 customers, down from outages to 18,700 customers Tuesday.  As of  early morning  Wednesday, Con Ed reported thousands of customers without power -- 1,712 in Queens, 576 in the Bronx, 1,550 in Brooklyn, 1,528 in Westchester and 1,1984 in Staten Island.

    "As of 10 o'clock this morning, our number is a little bit higher than yesterday, but nowhere near 2006,"  Con Ed spokeswoman Elizabeth Clark told NBC New York. ""Our peak is predicted to be just as high today. Will there be some strain on the grid? Yes. Our system is designed to handle days like today."

    New Jersey's largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas, reported about 6,500 customers without electricity.

    In Park Ridge, N.J., police evacuated a nursing home and rehabilitation center after an electrical line burned out Tuesday evening. Patients from the nursing home and rehabilitation center were taken to hospitals and other nursing homes until power was restored Wednesday morning.

    Amtrak was reporting delays in the Northeast corridor and low voltyage was causing delays on the A, C, F, and G train lines.

    And Wednesday didn't seem likely to offer any relief for the worst heat wave in years, the National Weather Service said. It was forecast to be almost as hot as Tuesday and to be the most humid day of the now five-day heat wave. The temperature hit 100 in Newark, N.J again today. The state's largest city has hit 100 degrees for four straight days for the first time since 1993.

    Records once again fell around the region when official numbers were released int he afternoon:

    Central Park hit 100 degrees, LaGuardia reached 101, JFK maxed out at 100 and Islip peaked at 96 -- all records. Newark hit 101 degrees but that was not record breaking.

    Meanhile, a New York City man was charged with animal cruelty today for letting his dog die in a hot car while he swam at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park.

    Con Edison has reduced voltage to more New York City neighborhoods, and residents there are being asked to turn off electrical appliances.

    The utility says it reduced voltage by 8 percent to parts of Brooklyn early Wednesday because of problems on electrical cables supplying power. The affected neighborhoods are Vinegar Hill, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill. The area includes nearly 52,000 metered customers, which could be apartments, family homes or office buildings.

    The company already had announced voltage reduction in other neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens.

    Forecasts predict that temperatures will stay in the 90s through the end of the week -- putting any relief -- off until the weekend.

    The East Coast broiled Tuesday as record-setting temperatures soared past 100 from Virginia to Massachusetts, utility companies cranked up power to the limit to cool the sweating masses and railroad tracks were so hot commuter trains had to slow down. The temperature broke records for the day in New York, where it hit 103, and in Philadelphia, where it reached 102.

    Construction worker Pat McHugh, his face shiny with sweat as he took a break in Manhattan, said it was brutal.

    "Worst heat on the job in 10 years," he said.

    City cooling centers are open and its good to brush up on hot weather tips in extreme temperatures.

    The heat slowed down the usually fast-paced walk of New Yorkers, but it stalled some NJ Transit trains completely. The scorching temperatures overwhelmed the mechanical system of at least one train, and passengers got stuck in Elizabeth, N.J., for half an hour. NJ Transit officials say they will be running fewer than normal trains Wednesday (11 have already been canceled) as authorities throughout the tri-state area struggle to cope with heat-related problems.

    The Suffolk County Red Cross, on New York's Long Island, said it planned to hand out bottles of water to day laborers who gather on corners waiting for work, often manual labor on rooftops or in fields and yards.

    Workers at the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine, N.J., used tubs of ice cubes to help four sick or weakened seals keep cool.

    In Newark, people took advantage of pools and cooling centers.

    Cierra Christmas and Ayana Welch, both 11, were cooling off in sprinklers at the Rotunda Recreation Center pool as part of a summer camp program.

    "I would say, it seems like I'm in an oven and it's on 360 and I'm being baked like a cake," Cierra said.

    Ayana laughed, adding, "360? I'm at 550!"