power outage

Long Island Man Blocks PSEG Truck, Forcing Workers to Restore Power

NBC Universal, Inc.

A homeowner on Long Island ran out of patience after a week of power outage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias -- so he took the matter in his own hands.

Frustrated and fed up as the region experiences another day of sweltering heat and humidity, William Coden on Tuesday pulled up his vehicle behind PSEG Long Island crew's truck and blocked the workers from leaving his Cold Spring Harbor home until his power is restored.

A powerline in Coden's neighborhood was among countless utility poles and trees that had been knocked down by strong winds of last week's storm. But after seven days and several visits from PSEG workers, four homes there remained without power.

The crews from Indiana told residents that they were only authorized to repair only one of those four homes. That was the last straw for Coden, according to his wife, Jennifer Coden.

"He said, 'you're not leaving until you restore power to our neighborhood. You need to restore power,'" Jennifer recalled. She watched and recorded as her husband and others moved two vehicles to block the utility truck from leaving.

At one point, one of the workers personally promised "it will get done" today. The standoff lasted for two hours before the neighbors cleared their vehicles.

"It was a desperate act in a time of desperation" born out of broken promises from PSEG about power restoration, Jennifer said.

It took the crews 30 minutes to restore that power that has been out since the afternoon of Aug. 4.

PSEG Long Island President Daniel Eichhorn responded Wednesday to the faceoff, saying he understands the frustration but frowned upon the actions of Coden and his neighbors.

"When the crews are blocked, it may help one or two individuals. But it's helping one or two individuals at the expense of a hundred or two hundred individuals," Eichhorn said.

Jennifer argued that it the utility company's mismanagement that is to blame for all of it.

"It's sad that it has to come to that. We shouldn't have to be forced to resort to these measures," she said.

At the height of last week's storm, millions across the tri-state area were without power and some were still in the dark Wednesday night. Long Island was the hardest hit area in New York and the utility's response in the aftermath has gotten serious backlash not only from residents but also from the governor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that PSEG and Con Edison have done a "lousy job," and said the utilities weren’t prepared for the storm and failed to anticipate what it would take to get the power back on quickly.

"I have told them to be aggressive as the law will allow," Cuomo said. "Because New Yorkers are fed up. They’re fed up and they’re right, and I’m with them."

He warned the two utilities that they could face fines, penalties, restitution and the revocation of their franchise.

"And I want the utilities to know that we do not abide by the concept in New York that anything is too big to fail," Cuomo said. "Your franchise can be revoked. I am not bluffing. I don’t bluff."

Neither confirming nor denying a new report that said the New York's Attorney General Office was opening an investigation into PSEG's response to Isaias' aftermath, Attorney General Letitia James said Monday, "Long Islanders deserve better."

"I am concerned about how PSEG prepared for this storm and how it served customers in the storm's aftermath. These problems must be solved with long-term solutions that take into account the issues that climate change presents," James continued.

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