Today’s news:

Blackout spoils HS dance at Cross Bay banquet hall

Hundreds of students lost out on their senior prom at Russo's on the Bay last Thursday when a power outage left thousands of residents and several businesses in Howard Beach in the dark.

The outage, which started at 5:40 p.m. and lasted through 9:30 p.m., hit 6,400 customers initially, ConEd spokeswoman D. Joy Feber said. Nearly 4,200 of those customers had their power back by 7:30 p.m., Feber said.

"At the time, we were focusing on restoration - that was the priority," she said. "The preliminary information was that the nature of the incident was definitely an infrastructure issue."

Feber said ConEd has yet to determine the exact cause of the outage.

But hundreds of West Hempstead High School students were left to snacking on hors d'oeuvres and dancing in front of battery-powered boom boxes because of the power failure a spokeswoman for Russo's said. She said the catering hall known for extravagant weddings, parties and other social occasions tried several different measures to keep the students happy.

"We tried to go on with the prom. We waited, but unfortunately the power did not come back on," she said. "We don't know exactly what the school is going to do."

The spokeswoman said she was awaiting a call back from the school's administrators to possibly hold another prom at Russo's.

The outage affected residents and businesses within an area bordered by 157th Avenue to the north, 164th Avenue to the south, 93rd Street to the east and 84th Street to the west, Feber said.

She said an incident earlier that day in Astoria, where a ConEd transformer exploded, did not cause the outage but instead complicated the power authority's ability to normalize the electricity grid.

ConEd supplies power to more than 3 million customers citywide, Feber said.

City Councilman Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), speaking during a morning event in Forest Park Monday, said he was worried the outage was only one of many that could occur this summer. He said he is hoping ConEd will build more power plants to ensure that Howard Beach and area residents have enough energy to last them through the summer.

"We cannot afford to keep having these brownouts and blackouts," Addabbo said. "I have got a problem with that."

The councilman said he is hoping to start oversight hearings at the city level to look into the operations at ConEd. He said ConEd has been restricted from building new power plants in Queens because there are no available sites at which to construct.

"This is something that really needs to be looked into," Addabbo said.

But Feber emphasized the outage was due to a mechanical problem, not a lack of energy supply. She said ConEd has invested $500,000 in modernization and renovations to solve infrastructure problems that could have jeopardized borough residents' power supplies.

"Our system is well maintained," Feber said.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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