Yesterday a gas leak in a building in Harlem resulted in an explosion and the death of seven people so far. Con Ed was called and the building exploded before they got there. I have to wonder if they had gotten any calls before yesterday about the gas odor.
Because when I smelled gas in my building in 2007 and called Con Ed it took three months for the gas to be turned off. I kept a timeline of my efforts to get help. I’m going to give a Cliff Notes version first, but I think it’s worth it to read the expanded version, to see just how insane it was.
Cliff Notes Version
10/7/07: I call Con End and report a gas leak. They say no leak.
12/29/07: Con Ed finally agrees there’s a leak and turns off the gas to my apartment.
12/31/07: I tell Con Ed that I still smell gas coming into my apartment. Con Ed says I’m mistaken and I call the landlord, the EPA and HPD. No help.
1/8/08: I call the City who calls the FDNY who agree there is a gas leak still and they call Con Ed who finally shut off the gas.
2/5/08: The problem is fixed. My gas is turned back on.
So it took Con Ed over THREE MONTHS to shut off the gas to my building. It took my landlord a month to fix the problem.
The Expanded Version
10/7/07: Called Con Ed about the smell of gas. Con Ed comes ands says it’s not gas, maybe a dead animal in the walls.
11/16: Called landlord.
11/23: Sent letter to landlord.
11/30: Sent another letter to landlord.
12/6: Called HPD to complain. HPD later sends an Acknowledgement of Complaint with the wrong room and says it’s a sewer issue even though I said it smells like gas.
12/11: Employee of landlord stops by, checks a spot, does nothing but says he will be back tomorrow to work on it.
12/12: No one comes back.
12/13: Called landlord.
12/14: Called landlord.
12/20: Called landlord. It’s been over a month and they have done nothing.
12/25: Voice mail from the City.
12/26: Called City back and left voice mail.
12/26: Called landlord.
12/29: Asked Con Ed to come back. Con Ed found a gas leak. Turned gas off for my apartment. Called landlord.
12/31: I’m still smelling gas! Called Con Ed. Con Ed came but was reading zero now. No gas leak, they say. Called landlord.
1/2/08: Called landlord and asked when the plumber would be coming.
1/4: Landlord’s guys move cabinet to prepare for plumber who is coming today he says, but no plumber arrives.
1/5: Called landlord, no plumber.
1/7: Called landlord, no plumber. The gas smell persists.
1/7: Called the EPA about the smell.
1/7: Called landlord. The gas smell persists.
1/8: Called the City to complain and they called the FDNY who took readings of their own and found that there is still a leak. They called Con Ed. Con Ed is back and they agree now that there is still a gas leak. They verified that since my gas is turned off from the basement there is another leak elsewhere in the building. Gas turned off for the whole building.
1/9: A plumber starts working in the basement.
1/12: Still no gas and no word about when it will be back.
1/15: Everyone has their gas back except me. Called landlord.
1/16: HPD says I have to call 311 and open a new complaint about the gas leak and can offer no explanation why. It hasn’t been fixed. But I call again and am given complaint #4095996.
1/16: Con Ed said all the problems have been fixed but mine. Plumber has to fix the turn off valve to my apartment.
1/16: Called landlord.
1/17: Sent a certified letter and this timeline to my landlord, the City and Con Ed.
1/18: HPD said an inspector would come between 9 and 1, no one showd.
1/19: HPD calls and asks if any of my complaints have been fixed. No.
1/28: I send another certified letter to the landlord.
1/29: Landlord’s office calls and asks me if everything is okay. (???) I say no. The plumber says he’s sending someone right over. No one shows up.
1/31: Called landlord. Also left a message for HPD.
2/4: Con Ed calls and says they haven’t heard from the landlord that the repairs have been made. Called landlord.
2/5: Con Ed installs meter and turns the gas back on.
I sent a letter to the City and Con Ed after the gas was finally turned off for the whole building (but before the gas leak was fixed) that began with the following:
“I am writing because due to the inaction on the part of my landlord and then by the City of New York, and incorrect readings by Con Edison, a potentially dangerous situation in my apartment and my building went unaddressed for months and I was forced to live in intolerable conditions. From October 7 to January 8 gas was pumping into my apartment. As of this writing the problem is still not fixed.”
No one from Con Ed ever responded. I can’t remember if the City ever got back to me.