With hundreds of roads impassible and thousands of people without power, it could take a while for things to return to normal in Westchester County, County Executive Robert Astorino said Tuesday.
"There is a lot to do," Astorino said during a meeting with reporters Tuesday. "The major utilities are ready to work."
That work will be daunting, with clearing all county and local roads of debris left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy one of the first things on the agenda. More than 500 roads in the county were blocked Tuesday morning with reports still coming in, Astorino said. The county executive said residents are still urged to remain off of the roads through the day Tuesday.
"It will take plenty of time for things to get back to normal," Astorino said.
Consolidated Edison officials said 179,000 Westchester County customers remain without power, twice as many as when Tropical Storm Irene hit the area more than a year ago. Officials said about half of Westchester County is currently in the dark.
Restoring power could be a lengthy process as utility trucks are currently blocked from reaching some neighborhoods. Consolidated Edison has begun work in some areas, but the first priority is clearing downed wires.
"This is devastating," Astorino said. "It could be a day or two before we begin, in earnest, restoring power throughout the county."
Two hospitals, Northern Westchester Hospital and Phelps Memorial Hospital are running on generators. There are 12 nursing homes in the county running on generators as well, Astorino said. Utility workers are currently on their way from as far away as California and Florida to help with the relief effort.
The Bronx River Parkway remains closed and Bee-Line Bus service suspended. Astorino said he hopes all of the county parkways will be open as soon as power is restored to traffic signals and debris is cleared—possibly as soon as tonight. Limited bus service could return on Wednesday.
Several county buildings also sustained damage during the storm. The Playland Ice Casino in Rye sustained significant roof damage. There is also sand and water on the ice inside the building, Astorino said.
Inland flooding, a concern more familiar to many county residents, was actually less of a problem than expected. Astorino said some low-lying areas experienced problems, but the storm didn't generate as much rain as feared.
"We lucked out there," Astorino said. "The flooding was not as bad as it has been in the past, the wind did the damage throughout the county."
Westchester County has set up 13 shelters that will remain open Tuesday. About 325 people were in the shelters Tuesday morning, with the number expected to grow because of the widespread power outages, Astorino said.
Residents are also urged to dial 2-1-1 for additional information, and to reserve 9-1-1 for emergencies.