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Blocking in PSEG trucks, LI man demands power restoration to home

From left, frustrated Cold Spring Harbor residents William

From left, frustrated Cold Spring Harbor residents William Coden and Tony Buzzeo talk with supervisor Terrence Dowd after blocking a utility truck from leaving Tuesday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

When Jennifer and William Coden saw a PSEG Long Island crew arrive at their Cold Spring Harbor residence Tuesday, they thought their time without power was over.

But that wasn’t the case. 

The crew told them they had a work order to restore power to a neighbor and not their Spring Street home. So after not having power since Tropical Storm Isaias hit last week, William Coden took matters into his own hands.

“I pulled two of my trucks. I blocked them in … so they couldn’t go and I said ‘Either you fix our line or you’re not going anywhere,’” said Coden, who owns his own business. “I called up PSEG and I told them the same thing.”

The standoff continued for nearly two hours, Coden said.

In a video of part of the encounter, a PSEG supervisor tells the couple that another crew was coming because the crew on the scene didn’t feel safe, for reasons that weren't clear.

Another man in the video, Tony Buzzeo, a family friend, confronts the supervisor and shows him a cellphone image, saying some workers from another truck were working while others were not. At one point, the supervisor promised that power would be restored Tuesday.

Eventually, William Coden said, PSEG called him to explain the incident was a “misunderstanding” and that they were re-dispatching another crew to restore power for them. Coden moved the trucks, and the original crew drove away.

They did receive electricity hours later.

Jennifer Coden, an attorney, said the couple's actions were “a desperate measure.”

“When it gets to Day 7 and you’re promised and promised and no one comes through with their promise, you begin to lose it a little bit,” she said. 

PSEG spokeswoman Ashley Chauvin said she didn’t know the specifics regarding what happened at the home but said “crews are restoring power as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Jennifer Coden said she had seen PSEG restoring power on the street on Saturday, leaving only four homes, including theirs, without electricity. But with two kids, ages 12 and 14, dogs and chickens, she said they felt being without power was no longer an option. 

Alyssa Nightingale, who owns a public relations consultancy firm and lives across the street from the Coden family, said she was supposed to be on a priority list because of a family member that lives with her and has medical needs. Nightingale said electricity was restored at her home on Tuesday but because she had no power to pump out the natural water springs coming in, her basement is under four feet of water.

“It was utter chaos,” she said. “Don’t tell me you’re going to dispatch people and they’re going to come and they don’t.“

William Coden said five days after the storm he was calm and figured PSEG would restore their power. When that didn’t happen, he said, he has no regrets about what he did.

“I wish I would have done it a week ago,” he said. “We were not going to get hooked up today and we had no idea when we would get hooked up if we didn’t do that. We had no choice.” 

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