With new storm looming, city scrambles to take care of those displaced
As a nor'easter approaches that could drop temps below freezing and hit the Big Apple with high winds and rain, the city is scrambling to find housing for the up to 40,000 New Yorkers displaced or left without power by superstorm Sandy.
"There's no question that the continuing lack of electrical service is jeopardizing the health and safety of people living in affected areas during this cold snap," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.
He said that many of those people live in public housing buildings, of which 114 last night were without power and 174 were without heat or hot water.
Marie Mandia, of Staten Island, is among those whose homes were gutted by the storm. The city had slapped a yellow sticker on it, restricting its use, after her windows were broken during the storm and her basement and main floor were flooded, the retired teacher said.
"I'm not staying here. There's no protection," said Mandia, 60, who stood outside by a pile of her ruined things -- a washer, dryer, television and furniture. "Here's my life. Everybody's looking at it."
To find shelter and power for those people as quickly as possible, the mayor laid out a strategy Monday.
Bloomberg announced the appointment of emergency management expert Brad Gair as director of housing recovery operations, to develop and implement a plan to house everyone displaced by Sandy. Each borough will also receive a dedicated "community restoration director" to help New Yorkers get shelter, food and other needs.
Additionally, the New York City Housing Authority has received generators to bring back power to public housing buildings in the Rockaways, including Carlton Manor, Ocean Bay and other places.
FEMA has also reportedly put up trailers and temporary shelters for displaced residents.
"Every option is on the table," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, according to the Daily News. "We don't really have a good sense of the number who are going to need temporary housing."
Unfortunately, housing isn't the only problem the city faces this week. Here's what else New Yorkers will be facing:
The nor'easter is set to hit the city midday Wednesday, bringing with it temps in the 30s, sustained winds of up to 40 mph, gusts of up to 60 mph, and up to two inches of rain, according to David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"This is sort of your typical mid-fall to winter storm, but the thing is, we just had a very significant storm in Sandy, so there's a little more concern with what we're dealing with," Stark said.
"It's completely different from [a hurricane], but the wind gusts could create problems with power outages and downed trees in areas that have been weakened by Sandy."
The storm should clear out of the city by Thursday night, Stark said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that ahead of the storm, he "wouldn't rule out" evacuating parts of the city if the storm gets bad enough.
About 115,000 New Yorkers were still without power as of last night, largely in the Rockaways, Staten Island, and southern Brooklyn, which were hardest hit by Sandy.
Restoration will continue throughout the week, and ConEd expects about 90% of customers to have power by the weekend. But with the storm coming in and temperatures dropping, restoration efforts could be set back even further.
"High winds and heavy rains could delay work on homes and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy and could cause additional outages," the company said yesterday.
ConEd added that power has been restored to about 84% of customers who lost it during Sandy.
Gas shortages in the city are still being compounded by hoarders, which both Bloomberg and Cuomo Monday said were making the problem worse.
Bloomberg said that "barges carrying something like 21 million gallons of gasoline" have come into the city and there are more coming, but long lines are here for awhile.
In a separate conference, Cuomo said that he is working with other governors to bring gas more quickly into New York from nearby states, but that there is still a long way to go.
Mass transit is slowly crawling back to full to service, but commutes will still be hairy as delays continue throughout the system.
With service restored to much of the system, attention has turned to the L (limited service) and G (suspended) lines.
Councilwoman Letitia James Monday called on the MTA to work faster to bring the lines back, suggesting shuttle buses until service can be restored. The MTA said adding a bus would be very difficult an wouldn't do much to alleviate the problem.
As of last night, the R train was still crippled, running in two sections between Forest Hills and 34th St., and Jay St./MetroTech and Bay Ridge-95th St. Almost all other lines have been restored, though with delays and modified service.
Check mta.info for the latest information.
About 94% of the city's schools were open Monday, with an attendance rate of around 86%, about 10% less than this time last year, Bloomberg said.