Even as Power is Restored, Some Buildings Remain Dark

Building superintendent Chris Drelich says salt water damage means lights might have to wait a few more days.

For someone without power,  that longed for moment is when the clock radio starts blinking 12:01 or the refrigerator's calming hum returns.

Standing in the damp basement of her East 14th Street co-op on Friday, Victoria Keller said she looks forward to no longer feeling like a camper in her own home.

"I sit and read for a little bit by candle light or flash light, and then I think, I may as well just go to bed," Keller said.

But getting power back isn't as simple as Con Ed flipping a switch.

When Sandy conspired with a full moon to cause record-high tides, basements across the city flooded with salt water. That alarmed building superintendent Chris Drelich because salt water can corrode metal.

"I said, ‘uh-oh, we have a problem,’" Drelich recalled.

As the waters receded, the fuse boxes in the six buildings in his complex had patches rust, and there was white fuzz on the switches: salt crystals.

Drelich said they would all have to be replaced, otherwise, the box could short circuit, or even start a fire.

No one yet knows how much it'll cost to replace all this.

Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging people to avoid turning on the power too soon.

"We've already seen some cases where when electricity was turned on there were fires and we lost some of the houses,” he said on Friday. “We wanna make sure that does not happen.”

Still, in the East Village, early Friday evening there were cheers when the power came back on.

The co-op on East 14th Street had a team of electricians working for hours, rigging up a temporary electricity distribution system for just this occasion. And for the first time in four nights, there was light.