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PR- 279-06
August 3, 2006


City Agencies Respond to Reports of Power Outages and Provide Relief to Heat-Stricken Residents; Mayor Lauds Performance of EMS Responders and Urges New Yorkers to Monitor Seniors and Those At-Risk

As Heat Wave Enters Final Stages, Mayor Continues to Call on Residents to Conserve Energy - Especially on Manhattan's East Side

As this week's oppressive heat wave entered its final day, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg updated New Yorkers on the heat emergency, detailing steps City agencies are taking to aid New Yorkers in need and respond to localized power outages throughout the City.  The City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is coordinating the City's response to both the heat emergency and reports of power outages.  The Fire Department (FDNY ) reports that EMS calls yesterday went up to 4,063, the sixth busiest day in EMS history.  Many other City agencies have mobilized to ensure the well-being and safety of New Yorkers affected by the heat and power outages.  Private sector companies and organizations, along with City government, continue to implement power conservation measures such as extinguishing lighting, raising air conditioning temperatures and running operations on generator power.  Demand for power today is projected to remain extremely high, making energy conservation essential.  Con Edison reported localized power outages yesterday and today at various locations throughout the City, but the electrical grid currently remains intact.   Today's high temperature is expected to reach 98 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of around 110 degrees; forecasters predict that the heat wave will break overnight, with tomorrow's high temperatures in mid-80s.

"Two days down and one to go," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "New York City pulls together like no other city in times like these, and I am proud of the work EMS and all our City agencies are doing to help New Yorkers through this difficult week.  Power conservation remains as critical today as it has been the past two days.  All New Yorkers must continue to cut back on energy consumption, especially residents and businesses in Midtown East."


In accordance with the Mayor's Executive Order declaring a Heat Emergency, City agencies have moved to reduce power consumption and aid New Yorkers affected by the heat wave and sporadic power outages.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) is switching 15 buildings it maintains to either full or partial generator power wherever possible to reduce load on the electrical grid.  The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has now moved one wastewater treatment plant completely off the grid and shed significant load at eight other plants throughout the city through the use of on-site generators.  The Police Department (NYPD ) is operating generators at several department facilities including the outdoor range, the Department lab and the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Dozens of additional private companies and organizations have taken steps to reduce power consumption.  In addition to those announced over the past week, the following companies are limiting their energy usage: Securities Industry Automation Corporation, Ernst & Young, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, Hill & Knowlton, NYU Medical Center, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Accessory Network Group Incorporated, Reckson Associates Realty Corp., Shubert Organization Inc., Judlau Contracting Inc., National Envelope Corporation, Tishman Speyer Properties, Trump Organization, Vornado Realty Trust, Henegan Construction Company, Financial Federal Corporation, Major Automotive Companies, National Spinning Company, CBS, Ann Taylor, Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, St. Regis Hotel, American Museum of Natural History, Altria, Avon, Kenneth Cole, ABC Carpet, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and Montefiore Medical Center.  Additionally, NASDAQ will turn off its sign except for opening and closing bell ceremonies. Cultural institutions across the City are also doing their part to conserve energy by raising air conditioning temperatures and turning off unnecessary lighting.

The Community Assistance Unit (CAU) reached out through emails and phone calls to community leaders, elected officials, civic organizations and businesses to ask them to conserve power, reaching between 70,000 and 90,000 people.  The Department of Small Business Services (SBS ) has reached out to the 55 Business Improvement Districts to ask businesses in their areas to conserve as much energy as possible.  In some cases, BIDs have sent staff door-to-door to local businesses.  Shopkeepers should remember to keep their doors closed while running air conditioning units in order to conserve electricity.

Yesterday was one of the busiest 24-hour periods in the history of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS).  From midnight Tuesday to midnight Wednesday, EMS received 4,063 medical calls, including 250 emergency calls directly related to the heat.  Total call volume was 25% higher yesterday compared with August 2, 2005, making yesterday the sixth busiest day on record.  Firefighters responded to 2,141 emergencies yesterday, a 100% jump from last year at this time.  Of those calls, there were 84 structural fires, up from 60 on Tuesday.  The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH ) continues to monitor hospitals for reports of heat-related illnesses.  Thirty-four heat-related Emergency Department visits (where heat exposure was primary complaint) were reported yesterday, up from 20 the day before and 2 the previous day.  Yesterday's total was the highest number of visits of the summer thus far.

The City's 383 cooling centers will continue to extend their hours of operation today, with exact hours depending on the location.  Yesterday, more than 30,000 New Yorkers visited cooling centers.  The Department of Parks & Recreation  will extend the operating hours of the City's 51 outdoor pools today until 8 p.m.; over 60,000 New Yorkers cooled off in City pools yesterday.  The Parks Department also operates more than 14 miles of beaches, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and more than 600 spray showers throughout the five boroughs.  Roughly 425,000 New Yorkers visited City beaches yesterday.  New Yorkers can call 311 for information on City pool, beach, spray shower, and cooling center locations and hours.

The Human Resources Administration (HRA) continues to contact client populations vulnerable to the heat, including those who receive home care, adult protective services or HIV/AIDS services.  The Housing Authority (NYCHA) expanded its door-to-door outreach yesterday, assisting more than 1,450 households. Social services staff has been deployed to each senior building to provide ongoing assistance to senior residents.  Additionally, NYCHA has reduced elevator service in its developments throughout the city in an effort to conserve power.  The Department for the Aging (DFTA) continues to monitor its home-bound and vulnerable populations.  The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) sent outreach teams into the field to distribute water and assistance as needed.  The Runaway and Homeless Youth Unit of the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD ) has asked the operators of mobile Street Outreach vans to pay particular attention to youth who may be subject to heat exhaustion, and encourage them to seek relief at Drop-In Centers.  Summer Youth Employment Program worksites, Out-of-School Time summer programs and Beacon day camps are canceling outdoor activities and educating their staffs on ways to detect and prevent dehydration.

DEP reports low water pressure in numerous areas due to illegal fire hydrant openings, most notably in Upper Manhattan.  Water consumption has run 300 million gallons above average for the past two days.  New Yorkers who wish to cool off with fire hydrant water must use City-approved fire hydrant spray caps, available free of charge at local firehouses.  Illegally opening a fire hydrant is wasteful and dangerous - one illegally opened hydrant wastes up to 1,000 gallons of water per minute, while a hydrant with a spray cap only puts out around 25 gallons per minute.  DEP crews closed 3,295 hydrants across the city from yesterday afternoon to this morning. New Yorkers should call 311 to report open hydrants

Below are additional steps the City has taken to conserve energy and assist residents and businesses:


Four buildings managed by DCAS have been moved to partial generator power: Family/Criminal Court, Housing Court, Concourse Plaza, and the Bergen Building.  The Bronx Zoo has reduced the voltage on their water heating system as a power-saving measure.  HRA special services staff and volunteers came to the aid of residents of Andrew Avenue North in University Heights who lost power last night, providing 10 cases of water, hot meals and emergency supplies.  Coordinated by OEM, an MTA bus acted as a mobile cooling center for residents there, and CAU coordinated with the Red Cross to bring food and water.  OEM also deployed light towers to assist Con Edison in fixing a power outage in the Kingsbridge section, where OEM also coordinated in handing out water.  CAU coordinated with the NYPD last night in door-to-door canvassing to confirm Con Ed estimates on customers without power.


DEP has taken the 26th Ward wastewater treatment plant completely off the power grid, and shed significant load at three other wastewater treatment plants: Coney Island, Owls Head, and Red Hook.  Additionally, DCAS has moved the Family Court on Jay Street to partial generator power.  The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and NY Aquarium have taken steps to reduce energy usage, from raising air conditioning temperatures to turning off unnecessary lighting.  HRA assisted residents of Sunset Park who lost power last night due to a manhole explosion; CAU coordinated with the

Red Cross to hand out water and ice.  CAU canvassed Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Homecrest, and other areas which had reported power outages last night.


Con Edison is requesting residents and businesses on the East Side to conserve power due to electrical equipment problems. Residents and businesses between 40th Street and 14th Street, from Fifth Avenue to the East River, should shut off any unused or unnecessary appliances.  A manhole fire this morning on 1st Avenue caused a power outage at OCME headquarters. Generators are running in the morgue there, but any scheduled autopsy will be handled by the Queens office.  All non-essential OCME employees have been sent home, and the office is in the process of returning to the grid.  Multiple hospitals on the East Side between 14th and 40th Streets are moving to partial or total generator power to take the load down. They include Bellevue NYU, Cabrini, and the VA.  OEM has its Mobile Data Center deployed to NYU hospital with several responders. 

In an effort to shed more load off the grid, DCAS has fully moved City Hall onto generator power, and moved five other buildings to partial generator power: Tweed Building, Sun Building, 100 Gold Street, Manhattan Family Court, and the OCME.  DCAS' conservation efforts have paid off: the Municipal Building reduced peak load usage by 10% over the past 2 days compared with other Peak Load Management days.

Cultural institutions also have cut back energy usage: Carnegie Hall, New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, New York City Center, Carnegie Hall, Museum of Jewish Heritage, The Public Theater, the Museum of the City of New York, and New York Public Library.  Additionally, the DEP's North River wastewater treatment plant has seen a portion of its power needs moved to generator power.

NYCHA assisted the FDNY in helping seniors out of an elevator at the UPACA Houses that was stuck between floors for 30 minutes.  As seniors were pulled out, NYCHA social services staff escorted them to an air conditioned office so that they could cool off and re-hydrate.


The DEP wastewater treatment plants in Jamaica and Bowery Bay continue to run partially on generator power.  DCAS has also moved four buildings to partial generator power: Civil Court, Supreme Court, Criminal Court, and Queens Borough Hall.  The New York Hall of Science has also implemented power conservation measures.  OEM dispatched a Mobile Data Center with several responders to Howard Beach to assist residents who had lost power yesterday.  CAU and the NYPD also responded to Howard Beach, Richmond Hill and surrounding areas last night.  CAU also canvassed Jackson Heights, Corona, Rego Park, Forest Hills, South Flushing, Ozone Park, and Howard Beach after midnight and saw scattered brownouts, strictly limited to certain blocks. 

Staten Island

DEP is now running portions of two wastewater treatment plants (located at Port Richmond and Oakwood Beach) on generator power.  Additionally, the Snug Harbor Cultural

Center, Staten Island Children's Museum, and Staten Island Museum have taken steps to conserve energy.

It is especially important for residents to conserve energy in the late afternoon and evening hours. New Yorkers can take the following steps to reduce their energy usage:

  • Set your air conditioner thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Only use the air conditioner when you are home. If you want to cool your home before you return, set a timer to have it switch on no more than a half-hour before you arrive. Residents and shop-owners should remember to close doors and windows while air conditioners are running.
  • Turn non-essential appliances off.
  • Only use appliances that have heavy electrical loads early in the morning or very late at night.

The Office of Emergency Management offers the following tips for New Yorkers to protect themselves during the heat wave:

  • New Yorkers should, whenever possible, stay out of the sun. When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head. Dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Drink fluids - particularly water - even if you do not feel thirsty. Your body needs water to keep cool. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
  • Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun's peak hours - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Cool down with repeated cool baths or showers.
  • Never leave children, seniors, or pets in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
  • Make a special effort to check on neighbors, especially seniors and those with special needs.
  • Report open fire hydrants by calling 311.
  • Recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses including heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
    • Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, headache, weak pulse, dizziness, exhaustion, fainting, nausea or vomiting, and cold, clammy skin. Body temperature will seem normal.
    • Heat Stroke: Symptoms include flushed, hot, dry skin, weak or rapid pulse, shallow breathing, lack of sweating, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and unconsciousness. Body temperature will be elevated, and victim should receive immediate medical attention.


Stu Loeser   (212) 788-2958

Jarrod Bernstein   (Emergency Management)
(718) 422-4888

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