New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (Getty/Drew Angerer)

Andrew Cuomo says New York City blackout was "unacceptable"

New York's governor expressed outrage at a power outage that left many in Manhattan without electricity for hours


Matthew Rozsa
July 14, 2019 2:00PM (UTC)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed outrage at a power outage that afflicted much of Manhattan on Saturday.

In a statement released on Saturday, the New York governor declared that "the fact that it happened at all is unacceptable" and announced that an investigation would be launched by the Department of Public Service, according to the Associated Press.

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He added, "You just can't have a power outage of this magnitude in this city. It is too dangerous, the potential for public safety risk and chaos is too high, we just can't have a system that does that, it's that simple at the end of the day."

Cuomo also urged people to stay indoors as of 10 PM ET despite power being nearly entirely restored, arguing that there were safety concerns due to ongoing infrastructure issues.

"While power has been restored, there are still some traffic signals that are out, so we would not encourage New Yorkers to go out if you don't have to go out," Cuomo said, according to CNN. Yet even as he warned New Yorkers to be cautious and expressed annoyance at the fact that the outage had occurred at all, he praised New Yorkers for reacting to the outage in a responsible fashion.

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"This could have been much worse," Cuomo said. "When you're talking about a city like New York with a significant piece of the city, basically suffering a blackout, that could be a very chaotic situation. We saw the exact opposite, actually. We saw New Yorkers at their best."

The Associated Press reports that, according to the New York City Fire Department, a transformer fire started at West 64th Street and West End Avenue caused the blackout and that it impacted roughly 45,000 customers. By contrast, CNN reported that at the height of the outage anywhere from 72,000 customers to 73,000 customers were affected, based on the varying numbers provided by Con Edison.

Mayor Bill de Blasio found himself under harsh criticism for campaigning in Iowa instead of returning to his city during its time of need.

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"I have to tell you, blackouts have become rare in New York City. I'm hopeful again this is something that will be a limited duration, but no, we used to have a fair number of them. And lately, certainly in the six years I've been mayor, they've been rare in the scheme of things," Mayor de Blasio told CNN's anchor Ana Cabrera, according to Newsweek.

De Blasio's fellow New York Democrat, Gov. Cuomo, also had harsh words for the New York mayor.

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"Mayors are important. And situations like this come up, you know," Cuomo said on CNN. "And you have to be on-site, I believe that. I'm governor of New York, I have been for eight years, I can count the number of times I leave the state basically on my fingers. You know, job one is when the situation like this happens, these situations happen more and more frequently - we have tornadoes, we have storms, we have super storms; all sorts of natural disasters or emergencies come up all the time."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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