N.Y, N.J. residents hit by Sandy desperately wait for power

(CBS News) NEW YORK - Power was being restored to many of 160,000 blacked out homes and businesses in lower Manhattan Friday night.

It's the news people have been waiting for all week.

It can't happen soon enough for 71-year-old Judi Crespo. Crespo has been cooking soup over sterno, and with her elevator out she hasn't left her place in four days.

"I'm desperate, desperate to have electricity back on," she said. "You don't realize how much you rely on it," she said.

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A few blocks away Consolidated Edison workers like John Sullivan and his crew are pulling grates off of flooded transformer vaults all over lower Manhattan. In go pumps, and out comes water.

The vaults hold transformers that are supposed to work even after being submerged, but they need to checked "This particular transformer is made to go underwater," Sullivan said. "It should be fine. Based on our experience, it should be fine."

Of the 3.2 million customers without power, 80 percent of them are in New York or New Jersey. Four days after Sandy hit people in Englewood, New Jersey still have to charge their phones at the local coffee shop. Power companies from Virginia to California have sent equipment and workers to help.

The cavalry will arrive too late to save Paul Nicaj's inventory at his restaurant overlooking New York's harbor. Three walk-in refrigerator's worth of food is gone. It's a six figure loss.

"You wrap your wounds, you heal and you go on," he added.

If the power does come back on tonight, Nikaj said he'll have a wedding party at his restaurant for tomorrow for 150 guests.

To help victims of Sandy, donations to the American Red Cross can be made by visiting Red Cross disaster relief, or you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.