More than 280,000 homes in the Hudson Valley area were without power Monday night as Hurricane Sandy hit the valley full tilt, knocking over trees and downing utility lines in scores of locations.
A total of 160,803 customers had lost power in Westchester County alone, according to utility company maps available on the internet. That includes 138,463 ConEd customers.
In Rockland County, about 64,377 customers had lost power.
In Orange County, around 59,566.
"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, Con Ed's senior vice president of electric operations. "This will be the largest storm-related outage in our history."
Many of the areas plunged into darkness were along the Long Island Sound shore, where problems caused by wind damage and loss of power were made worse by rising waters in low-lying coastal areas.
ConEd said the situation was likely to get worse.
"The number is likely to grow, as heavy winds knock trees into overhead wires," a company statement said.
Updated a few times an hour, the internet maps put up by the power companies showed how thousands of customers were losing and, at a slower pace, regaining power while crews scrambled to keep up with repairs.
"They're running from one to another," said Mike Donovan, a spokesman for Orange & Rockland Utilities. "It's consistent with a wind event like this. You have a dozen outages. You get there, plug in the fuse, it's a 15 minute job, you move to another. We see this all the time, but it's more of a scope."
Orange and Rockland had 1,000 employees and about 800 contract workers in the field Monday. The company said additional personnel will be deployed as the week progresses.
Utilities and government officials warned Monday night that the worst of the hurricane was yet to come. Power outages could last for days - if not weeks - after the storm subsides, they said.
"There may be some brief intervals in electric service also, I'd want you to know," he said, as the audience laughed. "That may very well happen. Don't be alarmed or surprise if it does."
Utility companies advise residents to report downed power lines to police by dialing 911.
To report an outage:
- Orange & Rockland Utilities, 877-434-4100. Storm Information Center.
- Con Edison, 800-752-6633. Storm Central website.
- Central Hudson, 800-527-2714. Hurricane Information Center.
- NYSEG, 800-572-1131. Outage central.