Con Edison’s weeklong response to Tropical Storm Isaias, which arrived in New York City on Aug. 4 profoundly impacted the borough, was quickly condemned by public and elected officials alike and prompted Councilman Paul Vallone to call for emergency City Council hearings on the vulnerabilities exposed in existing emergency preparedness and infrastructure.
In response, the Committees on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing, Parks and Recreation, Resiliency and Waterfronts, and Environmental Protection met remotely for a joint oversight hearing on “Tree Removals and Restoration of Power in the Aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias.”
During the hearings, Vallone introduced two resolutions which seek to push Con Edison to make needed service improvements, better prioritize restoration efforts across the five boroughs, and take accountability for damage sustained on private property during weather events.
“Con Edison’s failure to quickly restore power to tens of thousands of Queens residents in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias meant that the borough hardest hit by COVID-19 also became the hardest hit by this weather event,” Vallone said. “A borough-by-borough approach to Con Edison’s emergency response, advance identification of vulnerable utility infrastructure, and accountability for damage to private property during storm events are just a few ways we can take action now and prevent a similar unacceptable outcome in the future.”
Vallone went down a list of contributing factors.
“Ancient infrastructure, overhead power lines, and dying, unmaintained city trees have consistently proven to be a recipe for disaster during extreme weather events,” Vallone said. “After Tropical Storm Isaias and the ensuing slow outer-borough response, it’s more apparent than ever that we need accountability and reform.”
“When it comes to a future natural disaster in our city, it’s not a matter of if but when,” Vallone said. “We cannot leave New York City families in the dark.”