Heat Taxes Utilities, Human Endurance

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The New York Sun

NEW YORK (AP) – Sweltering temperatures that neared 100 degrees sent New Yorkers in desperate search of relief in any form Tuesday: An air-conditioned subway car. A cold bottle of water. Or a spare, dry T-shirt.

The summer’s fiercest heat wave promised two more days of brow-mopping weather in the tri-state area, leaving scorched New Yorkers with little hope of a respite.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for the city through Thursday, warning that temperature of 104 were possible on Wednesday.

“I am pretty much dying,” said Grace Hartmann, a California girl turned New York University student. “I’m from California, where it’s not this hot and not humid. To be honest, I can’t believe it’s going to be hotter” on Wednesday.

“It’s hot, hot, hot, especially on the subway platform,” said Mary Tabare, an interior design student from Queens, who was waiting for an E train at Penn Station. “I hope the air conditioning is working on the subway.”

Officials in Connecticut and Long Island, trying to beat the heat, suspended admission fees at beaches and pools. By afternoon the New York City temperatures were 95 in Central Park and 98 at LaGuardia Airport in Queens; the Central Park record was 100 degrees, set in 1933. The temperature in Teterboro, N.J., hit 97, while the mercury soared to 98 in Newark. Danbury, Conn., hit 93 degrees.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who signed an unprecedented heat emergency order Monday, reiterated the dangers of the heat and humidity. “This is a very dangerous heat wave,” Bloomberg said Tuesday. “It’s more than just uncomfortable. It can seriously threaten your life.”

Con Edison spokesman Chris Olert said 360 customers _ roughly 1,400 individuals _ lost power on Tuesday. Most were in the Buchanan area of Westchester County, and were expected to be quickly fixed. Thirty of the customers were in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

With a disastrous 10-day power outage in Queens still fresh in local memories, energy conservation plans were put into effect _ some more easily noticed than others. Temperatures in city offices were set at 78 degrees, and large municipal facilities _ like the Rikers Island jail complex _ were on backup generators.

The giant Pepsi-Cola sign on the Brooklyn waterfront will be dimmed, as will the lights illuminating the George Washington Bridge and the three Staten Island bridges: the Goethals, Bayonne and Outerbridge Crossing. The famed necklace lights lining the city’s East River bridges will also remain dark.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell suspended admission fees at all state parks and beaches on Tuesday and Wednesday. The same policy was in effect throughout Nassau County on Long Island, where the county’s senior centers will double as cooling centers.

In New Jersey, where soaring temperatures were suspected in a massive fish kill at a Piscataway lake, beachgoers were on the sand and in the water before most people had arrived at work.

Diana Tredennick of East Brunswick, N.J., was slathering herself with sunscreen before 8:30 a.m. “I’ll be in the water a lot,” promised Tredennick, who brought along a cooler filled with ice and water to keep the heat at bay while sunbathing.

Some people had no choice but to muddle through the day, despite the brutal weather. Lee Spivey, 42, was standing on a street near ground zero while directing tourist traffic and moving construction trucks through lower Manhattan.

“You just deal with it,” said Spivey. “This is not the hottest day, but tomorrow might be.”

The New York Sun

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