An interminably long ten days after Sandy, large swaths of our Rye neighbors still don’t have power. Consequently, these residents feel that nobody knows their plight, that nobody cares, and that they have been forgotten. But none of us in Rye will feel right until ALL of our neighbors have heat and hot water again.
So here’s what we need right now:
We need Con Ed to provide us with a complete list of all Rye neighborhoods and streets that are still in the dark. If we can at least openly and discretely identify these remaining areas – an unwanted and dubious distinction to be sure – at least it shows that we have them in our sights.
We need, most importantly, Con Ed to immediately outline the specific plan of action to restore these remaining areas. This means we need Con Ed to tell us the number of crews working, when they will be working, what they will be doing, and when precisely the work will be completed. A blanket assertion that Con Ed is “on it” with a far off end date simply doesn’t cut it. Never did.
We need the Governor, in conjunction with the Public Service Commission and the County Executive, to explain to us what happened with Con Ed falling down on the job during the aftermath up to this point. We need answers so that we can all ensure that a mess like this doesn’t happen again. Certainly, we have no control over the storms that come down from the heavens. But we can surely control Con Ed’s future preparedness and responsiveness.
We need the City of Rye to start cultivating better working relationships with local Con Ed management, so that we can have more access and leverage in times of crisis going forward. And we need the City to improve upon its communications to the public. To be sure, our managers in the City have been working hard, and we have been at the whim and mercy of Con Ed. But there needs to be timely distribution of relevant information – whether it be good news or bad – with sufficient detail to insure that folks’ desire for updates is adequately sated. Luckily, we have already made progress on easy and quick fixes in this regard.
As much as we still need these things, we have also received much from within the Rye community.
Namely, our community organizations have stepped up to the plate big time. Whether it be Sheri Jordan and the Rye Historical Society opening up the Square House for coffee and cell phone re-charging. Or Greg Howells and the YMCA opening their facility for warm showers. Or Kitty Little and the Rye Free Reading Room keeping the library available after regular hours to give people a respite from the cold. Or Christine Siller and the Rye Nature Center offering programs while children were locked out of school. Or Tom Saunders and SPRYE keeping tabs on seniors who needed a contact to touch base. The list is a long one.
And city workers have also gone above and beyond the call of duty. Whether it be Public Works employees doing heavy lifting in clearing the streets of trees and debris. Or the Police Department patrolling the streets in times of increased danger. Or the Fire Department, including paid and volunteer members, going the extra mile in responding to calls. Or the Building Department identifying the increased use of generators as something about which the public needed safety instruction and guidance. Again, the list is a long one.
But perhaps the biggest bright spot I have noticed is the amazing spirit of our citizens in helping each other and in persevering. Yes, it has been hard to be patient. Yes, we may even feel justified in losing our patience from time to time. But throughout it all, we have done the small but unquantifiable things to get through. Whether it be bringing fire wood to a neighbor. Or knocking on the door of an older person to make sure they are doing well. Or helping someone down the block find a tank of gasoline. Or opening your home, if you were lucky enough to have heat, to those less fortunate. This is the true spirit of Rye, on full display in an hour of darkness.
-Councilman Joseph Sack