ConEd prepped for big storm, got even bigger 1

Associated Press
Streets around a Con Edison substation are flooded as the East River overflows into the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, N.Y., as Sandy moves through the area on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. After a gigantic wall of water defied elaborate planning and swamped underground electrical equipment at a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan's East Village, about 250,000 lower Manhattan customers were left without power. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Blame a very high tide driven by a full moon, the worst storm surge in nearly 200 years, and the placement of underground electrical equipment in flood-prone areas for the most extensive storm-related power outage in New York City's history.

It's like what happened at the Fukushima nuclear complex in Japan last year — without the radiation. At a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan's East Village, a gigantic wall of water defied elaborate planning and expectations, swamped underground electrical equipment, and left about 250,000 lower Manhattan customers without power.

The substation was designed to withstand a surge of 12.5 feet.

Last year, the surge from Hurricane Irene reached 9.5 feet at the substation. The utility figured the infrastructure could handle a repeat of the highest surge on record for the area — 11 feet during an 1821 hurricane. After all, the substation was designed to withstand a surge of 12.5 feet. But planning big was not big enough. Superstorm Sandy went bigger — a surge of 14 feet.

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