LARCHMONT, N.Y. — Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have traveled to Puerto Rico three times last fall to assist with hurricane recovery efforts, don’t expect to see him touring his local damage caused by the two back-to-back nor’easters on his home turf of Westchester County anytime soon.
Cuomo, who lives in Mount Kisco, flatly told reporters Sunday afternoon: “I’m not doing an official tour.”
Outside of a campaign event for state Senate Democratic candidate Shelley Mayer in Larchmont, Cuomo responded to criticism over not getting out to survey the damage caused by the nor’easters that walloped the lower Hudson Valley and speak with those affected by the storms.
“I know what a tree down looks like and what a line down looks like. There is no official tour of a downed tree. And, we don’t need a picture of the governor saying, ‘Oh, this tree is down and the line is down,'” Cuomo said.
He added: “By the way, my power went out, too.”
“I was there. I’m a Westchester resident — all you have to do is look at my yard. … I know damage from the storm. I live the damage from the storm,” said Cuomo, explaining that after his electricity went out, it was restored, however “some kind of power surge” blew out his home’s electric panel, an issue he is “still dealing with.”
Nor’easters on March 2 and 7 caused power outages for about 190,000 customers, the majority of them in Westchester County, where high winds and wet snow toppled trees onto power lines.
But that’s nothing compared to what the residents of Puerto Rico have been grappling with since hurricanes Irma and Maria, Cuomo said.
“That’s an entirely different situation than what we’ve got here. Those are people, who, for months, have no power and a devastated island that was abandoned. There were no utility crews coming to help and there was no one handing out a bottle of water. It was a matter of life or death. I was there making a statement on behalf of the state of New York,” Cuomo said.
In Westchester County, this month’s pair of nor’easters have left more homes in the dark than August 2011’s Hurricane Irene, making it the fifth worst outage in Con Edison’s history, the utility company has said.
As of Sunday afternoon, 1,900 customers remained without electricity, but Con Edison said it planned to have all restorations completed by the end of the night.
More than 2,900 field workers have worked around the clock to untangle wires, remove trees and rebuild a large portion of the grid, the utility company said.
Con Edison, as well as NYSEG — which provides utilities in Putnam and northern Westchester — have been lambasted by customers, as well as local officials, for their response to both storms.
Both companies have said they were prepared with extra out-of-state workers and have been working has quickly as they can to get the power back on.
On Sunday outside of the VFW Hall in Larchmont, Cuomo reiterated his call for an investigation into how the Hudson Valley — where he declared a state of emergency shortly after the first nor’easter — have been handling restoration efforts.
“It wasn’t a tornado, a hurricane or a 500-year flood. It was snow and wind, which we have dealt with a thousand times before,” he said. “This was a fairly simple situation … it was a classic storm with high winds and trees down, which makes it all the more obnoxious that it has taken so long to turn on the power.
“If they find fault, I hope they throw the book at them and the whole desk,” he said.
Follow Kimberly Redmond on Twitter: @kr0618