NEW YORK (AP) – The lights went back on Wednesday for the last victims of the 10-day Queens power outage, making it easier for angry local business owners to see the damage inflicted by the blackout. But then the lights went out in Staten Island.

While Queens residents flipped their air conditioners back on, power went out for about 16,000 customers on Staten Island at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The figure, which refers to billing accounts – sometimes whole buildings – means a much higher number of Staten Island residents were without power.

Consolidated Edison utility spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said the Staten Island outage was caused by downed power lines but the extent of the damage was unknown. By 6 p.m., he said, power had been restored for about 2,000 customers.

At the height of the Queens outage, about 25,000 customers, or about 100,000 people, were without power.

Charles Marino’s Queens business, Marino & Sons Fish Market, was without power for about four days, then restocked its merchandise Monday morning after partial power returned over the weekend. On Tuesday, the power went out again.

Marino said the blackout damaged his commercial refrigerators, ice machines and other equipment – and the second outage alone caused him to toss about $25,000 worth of rotting fish.

“This store went through the Depression, through the World War, through 9/11,” said Marino, the fourth generation of his family to run the business. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Among those who went without lights, air conditioning and refrigeration in Queens was Christos Padadopoulos, whose family lost much of its food due to the blackout.

“I’m angry with the mayor and Con Ed,” he said Wednesday. “It happens only to the poor workers and immigrants in Astoria. I also got a fever and almost fainted it was so hot.”

As residents sweltered through some of the hottest days of the year and estimated business losses climbed into the millions of dollars, the state Public Service Commission said it planned a full investigation of the blackouts, including four Queens public hearings Aug. 9-10.

“I have directed staff to meticulously go through the events of last week to determine whether the company’s actions and response were appropriate,” said William Flynn, chairman of the agency responsible for overseeing New York’s utilities.

State and local politicians have already lashed out at the utility for its early underestimation of the number of people affected.

On Friday, the utility revealed that the Queens blackout was 10 times worse than it originally reported. The utility has promised to deliver a report on the blackout within two weeks.

The first lawsuit against the utility was filed Tuesday by a Queens woman who claimed she couldn’t contact a doctor after her 2-year-old fell ill during the blackout. Sandra Boyle seeks unspecified damages for emotional and physical distress.

“I’m very fed up with the whole thing,” she said. “In this day and age – it’s not a Third World country that we live in.”

Utility spokesman Chris Olert would not comment on the lawsuit.

He said the blackout could have been shortened if Con Ed managers had decided to temporarily shut down the area’s network. That would have cut the power to a much larger swath of Queens, but it would have prevented further damage and made it easier to bring all customers back on line more quickly.

Con Ed officials defended the decision not to shut down the network.


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