Cuomo: Cold Will Make Damaged Homes Uninhabitable

Temperatures were expected to keep dropping, falling into the 20s by Monday night

By Storm Team 4
|  Monday, Nov 5, 2012  |  Updated 6:05 AM EDT
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Steve Villanueva's forecast for Sunday, November 4, 2012.

Steve Villanueva's forecast for Sunday, November 4, 2012.

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As temperatures drop throughout the tri-state, tens of thousands of people whose homes were damaged by Sandy will need other places to live, officials said Sunday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said homes without heat will become uninhabitable as temperatures drop. He said that means residents who have been reluctant to leave their homes will have to, and that they'll need housing.

Mayor Bloomberg said the city expects it will have to find housing for 30,000 to 40,000 people. Officials have not said what their plans are for that kind of housing.

The forecast calls for temperatures to fall into the 20s by Monday night, ahead of another storm expected in our area. The National Weather Service says a possible coastal storm Wednesday and Thursday could bring gusty wind, rain and snow. There's also the possibility for beach erosion.

Some who live or volunteer to help clean up in the communities hardest hit by Sandy say the official response has been lacking.

Michael Gidaly is one of a growing number of volunteers who have been working to gather and distribute food, clothing, supplies and children's toys to victim's of Sandy. Gidaly said he was surprised not to see FEMA and the Red Cross offering help in the Rockaways, where he spent Saturday going door to door to deliver aid.

"I was just amazed that there was no presence from larger organizations there," Gidaly said. "It's drastic, people are literally without the essentials. There's no power, the infrastructure is totally wiped out, people are freezing there."

Carter Langston, a FEMA spokesman, said that disaster recovery centers for people to register for assistance were set up in Rockaway at 115-15 Beach Channel Drive and 1-199 Rockaway Point Blvd. FEMA, he said, had also established distribution points for food, water, clothes and blankets at Red Fern, Conch and Hammel playgrounds and had begun sending community relations teams door to door in Rockaway.

"If people haven't seen a FEMA shirt, my only answer is wait because they will. We're ramping up very quickly," Langston said.

A spokesman for the Red Cross said that approximately 10 food distribution trucks had been deployed throughout Rockaway and blankets and cleanup supplies were also being distributed on the peninsula.

And on Sunday evening, Cuomo announced the suspension of the toll on the Cross Bay-Veterans Memorial and Marine Parkway Bridges, which connect the Rockaway peninsula to Queens and Brooklyn.

“The people of the Rockaways suffered tremendously from Hurricane Sandy, and with the loss of A train service, there is no easy way for many of them to get back and forth to the rest of New York,”  Cuomo said. “We are taking action to suspend these tolls to make the recovery easier for both Rockaways residents and the people helping them.”

Meanwhile, ahead of election day, the Board of Elections announced temporary polling sites would be put in place in neighborhoods affected by Sandy. 

While officials look ahead to try and figure out temporary housing for storm refugees, they are also working on short-term solutions to help people get through this cold snap.

On Saturday, the city mobilized volunteers to distribute 25,000 blankets as Bloomberg urged residents without heat to move to shelters.

"We are trying to respond to an unprecedented emergency," Bloomberg said. "We are committed to making sure that everybody can have a roof over their head and food in their stomachs and deal with the cold safely." 

The city opened warming centers around the five boroughs that are open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. to keep residents warm. 

“If you are elderly or have an infant under a year old or have heart disease or medical conditions you really have to get to a warm place," Bloomberg said.

Power was restored for most Manhattan residents by Saturday morning, and subway trains began chugging back and forth across the East River.

However, over a million residents were still without power across the tri-state, and officials were urging drivers and powerless residents desperate for gas not to panic, because relief is on the way.

Throughout the tri-state, lines of cars, and in many places queues of pedestrians carrying bright red cans, waited for hours for the precious fuel.

Sandy, which killed at least 74 people in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, damaged ports that accept fuel tankers and flooded underground equipment that sends fuel through pipelines. Without power, fuel terminals can't pump gasoline onto tanker trucks, and gas stations can't pump fuel into customers' cars.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie ordered an odd-even gas rationing system in 12 counties at noon on Saturday. Residents with license plates ending in an even number, or where the last number on the license plate is even will be able to buy gas on even-numbered days and residents with plates ending in an odd number, vanity plates, or where the last number on the license plate is odd can make gas purchases on odd-numbered days.

NEW YORK CITY

  • Con Ed has about 5,000 customers out in Manhattan, 45,000 in Queens, 16,000 on Staten Island, 22,000 in Brooklyn and 10,000 in the Bronx. 
  • At least 41 storm-related deaths have been reported, most from drowning.
  • New York City schools are set to resume Monday, but 65 schools will remain closed, 57 because of storm damage and another eight because they are serving as shelter, Bloomberg said.
  • Residents in Breezy Point are being told to drink only bottled water. While city drinking water remains safe, the distribution system for Breezy Point has been damaged and the water is not safe to drink, the city said.
  • LIRR, Metro-North, subways and buses have resumed, most with partial service. Visit www.mta.info for the latest.
  • The city has food and water distribution sites in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and Manhattan. See the list of sites here.
  • The city has also set up warming centers around the five boroughs, which are open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. See the list of sites here.
  • Amtrak resumed service between New York City and Boston on Friday. Limited service between the city and points south resumed Thursday.
  • The Holland Tunnel opened one tube Friday for commuter buses only. The Lincoln Tunnel is open but the Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel are closed indefinitely.
  • The East River Ferry resumed its regular schedule Saturday.
  • The Staten Island Ferry resumed at noon Friday with half-hourly service in both directions.
  • A rule requiring cars entering Manhattan on East River bridges to have at least three passengers as a way to reduce congestion expired at 5 p.m. Friday.
  • Those seeking federal disaster assistance are urged to start here.
  • PATH Train service remains suspended indefinitely, the Port Authority said.

LONG ISLAND

  • Long Island Power Authority has 320,000 customers without power. The utility said Friday it expected to restore service to most customers by the weekend of Nov. 10 and 11.
  • At least six storm-related deaths have been reported.
  • The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant was flooded during the storm, and critical infrastructure was damaged, causing sewage to back up into schools and homes. A conserve water order is in effect in Nassau County from the Queens border to the Meadowbrook Parkway, south of the Long Island Expressway.
NEW JERSEY
  • Nearly 1 million customers were still without power Sunday. PSE&G estimated it would restore power to 493,000 customers within a week to 10 days. JCP&L said it expected to reconnect the remaining 485,000 of its customers within a week, and Atlantic City Electric, which has 11,000 outages, expects to restore service to customers on the mainland by Sunday.
  • The storm killed at least 23 people throughout the state.
  • Approximately 250 school districts were expected to be open Monday. More than half of the state's school districts will remain closed, Christie said Saturday.
  • One tube of the Holland Tunnel opened Friday for commuter buses only.
  • Northeast Corridor train service resumed Friday. NJ Transit had tried to get three lines up and running but a backup generator failed overnight. Ninety percent of bus routes were running Saturday. 
  • The following water systems have issued boil water advisories: Independence MUA - Highland System; Ship Bottom; Stafford Township MUA; Reflection Lakes Garden Apartment Complex, West Milford; Long Beach Township Water Department.

CONNECTICUT

  • About 38,014 customers were without power Sunday, down from a peak of more than 620,000.
  • Connecticut Light & Power said it expects restoration to be "substantially complete" by Monday or Tuesday, with about 2 percent of customers still without power then.
  • United Illuminating said it expects to restore power to 95 percent of its customers before midnight on Monday.
  • Three deaths have been blamed on the storm.
  • The state's storm site can be found here.

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