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Mayor Bloomberg finally made his way to Astoria yesterday to be briefed on the situation leaving thousands of Queens residents and business owners have been with little or no power. Yet he nor Con Ed could not explain why power had been out for four days. Mayor Bloomberg did say, “I cannot explain why we’re in this situation. It’s an intolerable situation.” And the Mayor and Con Ed don't know when power will be back on. What is known is that there were multiple manhole fires, cables just seem to be melting all around, and Rikers is using back-up generators!

The outages are in Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, and Hunters Point (there have been reports of outages in the Bronx and parts of Park Slope, but not at the level of what's happening in Queens), and Con Ed has over 500 workers trying to repair and replace wiring. Ice will be distributed at Ditmars Boulevard and Steinway Street in Astoria.

Newsday reports that Con Ed admits today that the "blackout in parts of Queens is 10 times worse than the power company had previously reported" - with 25,000 customers "without power. Previous estimates were based on the number of customers who had called the company to say they were without electricity." The Daily News' editorial today points out that Con Ed's previous estimates were based on people with no power and didn't count those with very little power. Oh, and:

Worse, Con Ed defines "customer" in a rather devious way. A single, large apartment building containing, say, 100 units and several hundred tenants, is counted as one customer. One. Uno. One. See, the blackout isn't as bad as you think, New York!

Our readers recounted their experiences

with no power and trying to get in touch with Con Ed yesterday, with Con Ed saying power might be back today, tomorrow, or next week and people passing along helpful links to Con Ed's claims forms (you can claim up to $350 for spoiled groceries if you have the receipts and you can claim only $150 without receipts; businesses can claim up to $7,000 - a very tiny consolation). You can also try calling 800-75-CONED for information. Keep telling us what's happening and we'll post updates.

And City Councilman Peter Vallone said, Welcome to Queens. Welcome to the dark ages...People of this neighborhood want to storm Con Ed with pitchforks and torches." Vallone, if a Con Ed worker is injured by a pitchfork or torch, you're responsible. But the sentiment is understood.

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Photographs taken in Astoria from Dan Dickinson on Flickr