Updated Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.
O&R has restored service to approximately 4,000 of the 50,000 customers whose power was knocked out by Hurricane Sandy, according to its website.
Updated Oct. 29 at 4:30 p.m.
Orange and Rockland is reporting by 4 p.m., power was restored to 3,000 of the 15,000 customers who had lost their electricity Monday due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.
O&R is working to restore power to the remaining 12,000, but the number of outages continues to rise as the weather worsens.
For more information, visit O&R’s Storm Center at www.oru.com.
Orange & Rockland Utilities began preparing for Hurricane Sandy Thursday and called in all employees ahead of the storm's arrival.
Mike Donovan of O&R characterized the outages through noon Monday as being in line with a normal Monday, though much worse is expected as the storm intensifies.
"Most (of the outages so far) are characteristic of high wind events," Donovan said. "Trees falling on wires or blown fuses from limbs contacting the lines."
He said the people working extra hours are making good use of the time before more repairs are necessary to the system.
"There are thousands of details that are always having to be addressed with something like this," Donovan said. "We have folks working outside of their regular areas. It gives us the opportunity to ramp up to get them settled into jobs they don't usually do."
That can mean repair work in different areas or record-keeping in O&R's offices. Things are expected to pick up as the storm gets worse Monday night, which creates additional concerns.
"It is slower moving with repairs at night," Donovan said. "It is slower to make repairs in bad weather."
For example, trees can still be removed from power lines, but repairs that require going up high are limited by high winds. Some estimates have called for wind gusts to reach 90 miles per hour later tonight.
"The general rule is we won't put a bucket in the air at 40 miles per hour (or more)," Donovan said. "It's a safety measure. It's not that we aren't still going to be out making repairs. We just won't have buckets in the air."
To help its customers prepare to weather a storm, O&R offers these tips:
- For safety’s sake, don’t touch or approach any downed wire. Assume it is energized and dangerous. Call O&R immediately toll-free 1-877-434-4100. Depending on the situation, you may also want to call your local police to divert traffic until an O&R crew arrives.
- Maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from downed wires and anything they are in contact with including puddles of water and fences. Supervise your children so that they are not in the vicinity and keep pets on a leash.
- If a fallen wire is draped over a car, do not approach the car and make rescue attempts. Remain a safe distance away, and try to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm. If possible, emergency personnel should handle the situation.
- Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, manual can opener, baby supplies and pet food. Set your refrigerator and freezer controls to their coldest settings. Fill the bathtub with water.
- Have emergency equipment within reach --- portable radio, flashlights, spare batteries, first aid kit, cell phone and important medications. Update your personal list of emergency phone numbers. Keep O&R’s toll-free number 1-877-434-4100 near the phone to report power outages.
- If you experience a power outage, don’t assume that O&R automatically knows about it or that someone else will report it. To be sure the outage is reported, please call O&R toll-free at 1-877-434-4100 to let O&R know what happened. The more information you can provide, the more O&R can help you.
- Remember, if the base station of your cordless phone plugs into the wall, your phone will be unusable during a power outage.
- If a family member relies on electrically operated medical devices, secure a portable generator or make alternate arrangements for care. O&R does not provide customers with generators.
- Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car. Consider having extra cash on-hand, in case ATM machines don’t work.
- Listen for storm alerts on the radio. In case of power outages, O&R will keep the stations updated on repair progress.
- Learn how to manually open and close any electrically powered garage door, security door or gate.