A multi-purpose Hurricane recovery center is open at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, offering residents the opportunity to find updated information that has been sometimes lacking in the days since the storm.
Officials from Consolidated Edison, FEMA and social service organizations will be available seven days a week to answer questions about recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy and Wednesday night's nor'easter.
The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. "until the last person comes in and needs a question answered", said Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino.
Kevin Burke, chairman and CEO of Con Edison, said Con Edison representatives will be able to provide more accurate restoration times to the more than 31,000 Westchester residents who remain without power. For more than a week customers have grown frustrated with automated phone calls and a sometimes inaccurate outage map on the Con Edison website.
"We are at a point now where we can provide that information and will do so," Burke said, adding that Con Edison representatives will be able to look up individual customers and provide an accurate restoration time update. Burke said more accurate information was not been available until now because officials were still evaluating the extent of the damage.
"They are going to get honest and accurate information," said Astorino. "That's what they deserve and that's what they are going to have."
Officials from other groups including the United Way, American Red Cross, FEMA and several Catholic Church organizations will also be available to provide assistance and answer questions.
“The idea behind the center is to provide a place where people can get up-to-date information about their personal needs,” Astorino said. “One thing I heard over and over again as I spoke with people around the county was utter frustration in not getting questions answered from Con Ed. In times of crisis, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact with someone who has the information you need to make decisions."
Parking fees as the County Center will be waived. The center will be open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m.
Officials will be available to help residents document damage that occurred during the last two storms. Representatives from the Small Business Association will be available to speak with business owners about low-interest loan packages, Astorino said. The loans are available to replace property damaged or destroyed during the last two storms, Astorino said.
FEMA representatives will be available to help residents who are applying for federal disaster aid. Anyone who accrued property damage during Hurricane Sandy can register online before visiting the center, but officials will be there to help with the next steps in the process, Astorino said. The county will also provide free tetanus vaccines for anyone who has been involved in the cleanup.
But for those without power, the most important questions will be directed toward Con Edison. Burke said he understands people are growing frustrated after days without power, but said his company is doing everything it can.
"This is by far the worst storm we have ever seen in the history of the company," Burke said, later adding that there are certainly lessons to be learned from the storm.
"I'm very sorry so many people are suffering because they don't have power," Burke said.