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After Isaias, When Will Power Be Back?

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Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

This morning, many people in the New York area are without power, crucial for running air-conditioning on scorching summer days and powering the electronics that make working from and learning at home possible during the coronavirus crisis.

Since Tropical Storm Isaias tore across the region on Tuesday, utility crews have been striving to restore electricity to more than two million customers, many of them in Westchester County, northern New Jersey and Connecticut.

By the afternoon, Gov. Andrew. M Cuomo had declared a state of emergency in 12 counties.

[See a current map of the outages in the city and Westchester here; the outages on Long Island here; and the outages in Connecticut here. New Jersey residents can find Jersey Central Power & Light outages here, and Public Service Electric & Gas outages here.]

Allan Drury, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison said on Wednesday that it would take “days, not hours” for some of the repairs needed to restore power. On its website, the company said that the “vast majority” of customers were expected to have their power back by the end of Sunday. Con Edison provides electricity in the city and Westchester.

Isaias’ near hurricane-force winds caused Con Edison’s second-largest storm-related power failure ever: Only Hurricane Sandy in 2012 saw more New Yorkers without electricity.

Several officials, including Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey, said the damage could have been worse if the storm had not moved so quickly through the area.

Still, there was at least one fatality in the city: A man in Queens was killed when a tree fell onto the car he was sitting in. In Brooklyn, a woman was struck by a branch and critically injured.

[Read more about the power failures and storm damage.]

In many neighborhoods, the storm blew apart outdoor dining areas that restaurants had recently set up to allow them to serve guests outside. Some railroad service was suspended because of problems with overhead wires. Social media was filled with photos of toppled trees.

“We’ve had over 16,000 service requests for downed trees, which I think is the most we’ve ever had in the city,” New York City’s emergency management commissioner told the television station WPIX.

The outages came as Con Edison had been urging some city residents to conserve energy on the hottest days in an effort to prevent blackouts and brownouts. High temperatures and the resulting higher demand for power can cause a utility’s cables to overheat and break down.

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Five years ago today, Lin-Manuel Miranda took his biggest shot yet. He opened his musical “Hamilton” on Broadway, and ever since — until the coronavirus outbreak interrupted — electrified crowds have been humming along to the show’s rap battles and tongue-twisting lyrics.

To mark the anniversary, I spoke with my colleague Michael Paulson, who has covered the musical since its pre-Broadway run at the Public Theater, about the show’s impact and influence:

Q: Why does “Hamilton” still resonate so widely five years later?

A: First, it’s genuinely excellent. Second, the subject matter (America, and more specifically America’s revolutionary origins and aspirations) and the casting choices (predominantly Black, Hispanic and Asian-American) feel important and contemporary. And third, it was, at least until theaters shut down, ubiquitous — the show everyone talked about, which made it a must-see.

What influence has the show had on musical theater since its debut?

I want to believe that the success of “Hamilton” is helping to embolden writers and producers to take more risks, topically and musically. It’s hard to know what the next big smash will be, and it undoubtedly won’t look anything like “Hamilton,” but I think everyone who loves theater hopes that the show will have inspired a new generation of musical theater writers to be ambitious and adventurous with their choices.

With discounted tickets and the move to Disney+, what is the musical’s legacy when it comes to increasing access to Broadway productions?

It’s mixed: It’s true that there were substantially discounted lottery tickets and free shows for students at schools with high percentages of low-income families. The show’s artists have also done an amazing job engaging with their fans. But seeing the show on Broadway, and in many other cities, is still quite expensive. (The best seats cost $847 before the pandemic.) That kept the show unaffordable for many people.

It’s Thursday — write like you’re running out of time.


Dear Diary:

Moving to the West Village from the suburbs was a dream that finally became reality when my children went to college in the early ’90s.

As I moved into the tiny apartment, I realized that my beloved antique iron headboard would only fit in the bedroom if I was willing to live with the door opening just enough for me to pass through sideways. I decided I was.

I lived that way for a few years before finally bringing the headboard to the curb and replacing it with a much smaller one that allowed me to open the bedroom door all the way.

About six months ago, I heard some banging and scraping outside my apartment. I opened the door and saw my next-door neighbor dragging my old headboard out of his apartment.

Apologizing for the noise, he said that he had found it at the curb years ago and loved it, but that he grown tired of walking into his bedroom sideways so he was returning it to the street.

— Ellen Myers


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