It’s a dark day for this Gravesend co-operative.
The lights in the twin towers of Harway Terrace didn’t even blink during Hurricane Sandy, but the neigh-invulnerable co-op showed a chink in its armor when a March 9 power outage left one building without electricity and both without water for more than 18 hours. The black-out was a shock to residents.
“I always thought our building was indestructible,” said resident Randi Garay. “There was no power loss during Sandy — we were taking people in.”
But the complex’s underground wiring is to blame for the blackout, a Con-Ed spokesman said.
“The problem is not on Con-Ed equipment — the problem is on customer equipment,” said Con-Ed spokesman Alan Drury. “Con-Ed owns the delivery equipment in the city — power lines for example — but once you get to the property, that’s the customer equipment.”
Residents speculated that salty snow melt ate away at the wiring and caused a short circuit and an underground fire late Monday evening, though Drury couldn’t confirm precisely how the system failed. But outages from wire corrosion are practically a rite of spring as warmer temperatures unleash salty meltwater on power cables, according to the utility giant’s spokesman.
Lights started flickering at Harway Terrace around 9 pm, and by 10:30 pm, building two — and it’s more than 368 apartments — went dark, one resident said.
“When it went out, it had to be after 10,” said Garay’s husband Eddie. “I know because the Knicks were already halfway through the second quarter.”
With no power, the pumps feeding water to both buildings locked up, according to a maintenance worker for the co-op.
Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) and Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst) distributed bottled water to tenants in both buildings Tuesday afternoon, residents said.
But a lack of light and water weren’t the only problems plaguing tower tenants. With no juice for the elevators, cooperators were forced to take the stairs — sometimes as many as 20 flights — to get in and out of the building. The lack of lifts hit the less ambulatory particularly hard.
“I get around,” said the irrepressible Courier columnist Carmine Santa Maria, who uses his trusty steed, “Tornado” — an electric scooter — to make his rounds. “I go to the bank. I go to the store. But I can’t do s--- now.”
Parents with kids at home said the last 18 hours were trying.
“Oh my God — when I told him there was no TV, he was devastated,” said Noelle Pellet, who has a four-year-old son.
Harway residents have had to rely on family and friends to get them through the dark times.
“It’s a disaster,” said Melanie Romanenko. “I had to go to my dad’s house on Knapp Street to shower.”
Despite the inconvenience the massive outage caused, Romanenko found time to help others — carrying water up to an elderly neighbor so the woman wouldn’t have to lug a bucket up and down stairs.
“I just wanted to make a nice gesture,” she said.
Con-Ed is running a temporary connection to the buildings, Drury said. Residents should have power back by March 11, according to a letter from building’s manager.