Sandy recovery in NYC: Gas rationing order kicks in as power outage continues
NEW YORK - Storm recovery continues in New York as the city adopts neighboring New Jersey’s gas rationing measure. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced during Thursday’s storm update that he has signed an order which makes purchasing gas at the few fuel-strapped stations even more stringent.
After promising early last week that the gas shortage was only temporary, the mayor now says the shortage will be more prolonged than they had estimated and has imposed rationing at the pumps. Like N.J. Gov. Chris Christie did last Saturday, New York drivers can only fill up according to their odd or even license plates.
Beginning 6 a.m. on Friday, vehicles ending in an odd number can only buy gas on odd days and even numbers on even days. Bloomberg didn’t say how long this order will be in effect but did say police officers will be at the city’s gas stations to enforce the new rule.
Only 25 percent of NYC’s stations are currently operable, and the growing frustration of residents is widespread. Lines continue to wrap around blocks and Wednesday’s nor’easter only exacerbated the gloomy situation. There will be a few exemptions from the odd/even days rationing—such as for doctors, emergency vehicles and liveried cabs.
The mayor assured residents that 90 percent of the power lost in New York has been restored. Some 70,000 ConEd customers still do not have lights and 40,000 from the Long Island Company. It is said that 1,174, or 82 percent, of public-housing residents continue to live without heat and hot water, while 16,068 powers were restored. Bloomberg said he hoped everyone’s power is turned on by next week.
In New Jersey, 300,000 are still without power.
Residents at Surf Side Gardens in Coney Island are complaining of downed power line still in the streets, and on West 34th Street it is a “tale of two cities” as residents in privately owned buildings have all their power restored while just across the streets another public apartment complex has no electricity, no hot water or heat. Residents there are forced to use cold port-a-potties set up on the side of the road.
Wednesday’s nor’easter dropped three to five inches of snow on the city, and many families braced the freezing cold in storm-stricken areas like Coney Island, Carnasie, Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway in Queens. To add to the stress, the nor’easter knocked out some additional power in the area.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued his tirade against the power companies and has said repeatedly that he holds them responsible for the delayed restoration of electricity, hot water and heat to residents. He slammed them, saying he believed they were inadequately prepared for the storm, had archaic equipment and had too much of a monopoly.
Con Edison has been distributing dry ice since midday Thursday, and will continue until supplies run out. Personnel will also be available to answer residents’ questions. Below are the distribution sites:
Brooklyn: 2865 West 19th Street - two blocks from MCU Park (Cyclones Stadium)
Queens: Baisley Pond Park (155 St and Baisley Blvd., South Jamaica)
Staten Island: Father Capadano Blvd. and Hunter Ave. (parking lot near the Staten Island Parks Department)
Westchester: IBM Complex/Town Park (200 Business Park Drive)
Of the 58,000 homes already inspected, 89 percent are reportedly structurally sound, said Bloomberg. To be eligible for FEMA help, affected home owners must register. They can do so online or by calling 1-866-621-FEMA for assistance. Note that FEMA does not cover secondary homes, as the New Jersey governor stressed in his press conference.
Over 50 percent of homes in New Jersey have some damage or have been completely destroyed, and every county in that state qualifies for federal help, said Christie. To donate go to www.sandyrelieffund.gov. Home Depot has donated $1 million to the relief effort in New Jersey and has also given 10 trucks of cleaning products to be shared evenly between that state and New York. (Each state gets five trucks.)
Unemployment claims have jumped in New Jersey, over 300 filed. To file an unemployment claim, go to www.njfile.net.
The NYC subways and buses are almost back to normal, while the Long Island Railroad has resumed limited service. Officials warn of delays. Check http://www.mta.info/ info for updates on specific lines.
New Jersey’s Amtrak has partial service as the power is not fully back on the tracks. There is free ferry service into New York.