Electricity returned on Wednesday to all of New York City’s public housing developments, but more than 15,000 are still without heat as temperatures are falling to below 40 degrees at night, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"The failure to adequately provide heat, hot water and electricity in [New York City Housing Authority] buildings in a timely fashion is a scandal that is growing in proportion by the day," Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries told the paper.
NYCHA Chairman John Rhea defended his agency, calling the restoration of electricity and heat an “arduous task” with the level of damage sustained to the system. Rhea said heat and hot water should return to all public-housing residents by the end of this week.
Rhea told the Journal that NYCHA rushed to acquire more than 90 generators and 25 tanker-size temporary mobile boilers from as far away as Texas in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
"This is not stuff we just have lying around," Rhea told the paper. "Unfortunately there is no precedent for it. The reality is, based on the weather patterns we were getting, nobody was expecting the storm."
For a window into how hard life without heat is when the temperatures begin to drop, the Journal points to the Maldonado family in the Red Hook Houses, who constantly boil water on the stove to create warm steam and sleep in the living room to be closer to the stove. The family of six washes with a warm towel scrub.
"I don't want the kids to hear me cry," Lissette Maldonado told the paper. "I have to be strong for my kids.”
City Council Member Sara Gonzalez, who represents Red Hook, said some of the delay in getting the heat back on is because NYCHA is upgrading it’s electrical plants in waterproof boxes, and moving heating plants to safer locations with special insulation.