Tri-State Braces for Cold, Officials Urge Residents Without Heat Move to Shelters

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

By Storm Team 4
|  Sunday, Nov 4, 2012  |  Updated 10:46 PM EDT
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Steve Villanueva's early evening forecast for Saturday, November 3.

Steve Villanueva's early evening forecast for Saturday, November 3.

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The National Weather Service says a storm system currently brewing could bring colder temperatures, wind, rain and even snow to areas recovering from Sandy.

The forecast calls for temperatures to fall into the 20s by Monday night. The 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.

With the temperatures dropping, the city mobilized volunteers to distribute 25,000 blankets in neighborhoods hit hard by Sandy as Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents without heat to move to shelters.

"We are trying to respond to an unprecedented emergency," Bloomberg said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. "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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that temporary fuel trucks were being deployed in key locations in New York City and Long Island to help provide free gas to emergency vehicles and the public (locations are listed below). Cars will be able to fill up directly from the 5,000 gallon trucks, which are being provided by the Department of Defense in coordination with the National Guard. There is a 10 gallon limit per vehicle.

The governor also said that 80 percent of the subway system had been restored by Saturday, with 4 and 5 trains making their scheduled treks across the East River for the first time in almost a week and more restorations expected over the coming days.

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. And those were the lucky ones. Other customers gave up after finding only closed stations or dry pumps marked with yellow tape or "No Gas" signs.

"I drove around last night and couldn't find anything," said Kwabena Sintim-Misa as he finally prepared to fill up Friday in Fort Lee, N.J., near the George Washington Bridge, where the wait lasted three hours.

Sandy, which killed at least 76 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.

Meanwhile, in hard-hit Lower Manhattan, most customers had electricity by Saturday. Those still enduring outages would likely not have service restored until next weekend, primarily due to building-specific infrastructure concerns, and some customers could be without power for a week beyond that or even longer, the utility said.

Priscilla Santos, who lives in Coney Island, told NBC 4 New York that the situation there was dire.

"What I'm dealing with is a whole week, basically, of losing income... no heat, no water, no toilets, no food, no nothing," she said. Friday was the first time she or her neighbors saw any relief workers with supplies, she said.

In Island Park, News 4 spoke with one resident who lost everything -- and now waited for power to return.

"I have no car. At least I have a job, but that's about it," said Mary Staines. When asked what she wanted the most, she said "a home. I just want a home to go to sleep."

The city on Thursday began distributing meals and bottled water in hard-hit areas; the effort will continue through Sunday, officials said.

New Jersey got the brunt of Sandy, which made landfall in the state and killed at least 23 people there. About 1.2 million customers were without power Saturday, down from a peak of 2.7 million.

Christie's office has compiled a list of when utility companies expect to restore electric service to every affected community.

He says 8,000 out-of-state utility workers have now arrived in New Jersey, joining 10,000 based in the state.

NEW YORK CITY

  • As of 10 p.m Saturday, Con Ed said it had about 7,300 customers out in Manhattan, 74,000 in Queens, 27,000 in Staten Island, 24,000 in Brooklyn and 15,000 in the Bronx. The utility said most customers still without power would not have service until next weekend, Nov. 10 and 11, and those in the hardest hit areas could be without it for a week after that or longer.
  • At least 41 storm-related deaths have been reported, most from drowning.
  • Temporary fuel trucks have been deployed to the Queens Amory at 93-05 160th St. in Jamaica, the Bronx Armory at 10 West 195th St., the Brooklyn Armory at 1579 Bedford Ave., and the Staten Island/Elizabeth Armory at 321 Manor Rd.
  • 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.
  • New York City schools are set to resume Monday, but dozens of buildings won't have power and won't be able to open until later in the week, Bloomberg said.
  • Those seeking federal disaster assistance are urged to start here.
  • PATH Train service remains suspended indefinitely, the Port Authority said.
  • The New York City Marathon will not be held Sunday.

LONG ISLAND

  • Long Island Power Authority reported more than 460,000 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 two 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.
  • A temporary fuel truck has been deployed to the Freeport Armory at 63 Babylon Turnpike.
NEW JERSEY
  • Roughly 1.1 million customers were still without power Saturday. PSE&G estimated it would restore power to 607,000 customers within a week to 10 days. JCP&L said it expected to reconnect the remaining 570,000 of its customers within a week, and Atlantic City Electric, which has 24,000 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.
  • Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy ordered a curfew starting Wednesday night for all residents. It lasts from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. He also ordered all schools closed until Monday.
  • Most of Hoboken remained without electricity Friday. Mayor Dawn Zimmer says utility crews are examining substations to determine which circuit breakers need fixing to expedite the restoration of power. But she adds that PSE&G's initial estimate of seven to 10 days of power less is still in effect. Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday. Zimmer said pods would be set up in city neighborhoods to distribute food, water, batteries and other essentials.
  • 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 104,000 customers were without power Saturday, 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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