NEW YORK - New York City is valiantly trying to recover from super-storm Sandy’s phenomenal wrath. The death toll has now risen to 37 and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a press conference Thursday that rescue workers are still doing a block by block search for victims. The floodwaters have receded in some places but are still a problem in subways, tunnels and many homes and businesses.
Residents are usually resilient but alas human frailties are oftentimes juxtaposed against strengths and some have reached breaking point.
"Gas wars" have erupted throughout the city because there are few gas stations open. Public transportation is still on limited service, with 14 out of the 23 subway lines operating only partially. One resident from Long Island said a woman even pulled out a gun at another woman, fighting over gas. Frustration is mounting and tempers are flaring, for many want gas for their cars and generators. In addition, people are driving more now because public transportation is not back fully. Some residents have taken to social media to vent their frustration, laced with a bit of humor. Jason wrote on Facebook Thursday, "They need to hurry with this gas issue. We're prolly only a day away from a Mad Max situation. Beware of ppl tryna siphon ur tank. Preacha wrote, "I just got in between a woman who pulled a gun out on another woman who cut in the line for gas. Real talk... I told her, "If you kill me,I will f**kin' kill you."
Power is still out for millions, so families are huddling in cold apartments and houses. One father who drove into the city all the way from NJ, said the little gas he had in his car ran out while he waited in long lines to get gas to heat his home and fuel that same vehicle.
Let’s just say there is a transportation emergency in NYC and the free buses and shuttles, which started running 6 a.m. Thursday, trying to bridge the service gap for inoperable trains are stretched to the limit. Massive crowds from Brooklyn trying to get to the Manhattan for work have to jostle each other at the Barclays Center Downtown or Metro Tech to squeeze unto one of the limited buses. It is an ordeal. Some have taken to making the long trek over the Brooklyn Bridge to work. Reminded me of the tragedy of 9/11 when workers from Manhattan fled across that vey bridge on foot, many women carrying their shoes in their hands. For specific subway and bus line information, go to:http://www.mta.info/.
Same thing goes for the borough of Queens and Staten Island. Ferries are working again and the crowds getting off are enormous, exacerbated by the limited train service in the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has implemented carpool restrictions on cars travelling on all bridges and tunnels, except the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. To limit the overwhelming vehicular congestion, no one can enter with less than three people in a car. Metro North and the LIRR also have limited service.
Residents in Far Rockaway, Queens, Coney Island in Brooklyn and other areas have complain not having water as well as heat and Bloomberg promised during the press conference that meals and bottled water would be distributed throughout the city starting 3 p.m. today. For a list of distribution locations, go to:http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2012/f
Officials are working hard to get residents in shelters back to their homes and the Mayor said the goal was to have the 76 shelters reduce to 14 as soon as possible. Playgrounds and parks are scheduled to reopen by 8 a.m. Saturday.
MTA spokesperson Charles Seaton told ABC News 7 live that they are doing everything possible to restore full service by Monday. Flooding is still an issue but he assured us that 250 high speed pumping equipment will be brought in by the Army Corps of Engineers to help with that problem. This is the biggest disaster to hit the subway system in 108 years. All schools remain closed through Friday but Bloomberg suggested all staff should show up.
When asked about the potential disruption of the November election which is just five days away, the Mayor said the election committee will have to deal with whatever alternative arrangements need to be made. He added that many of the polling stations are located in schools and some of these schools have suffered flooding as well as damaged generators.
New York will have to change the way we operate, added the Mayor and suggested that residents and schools not store valuable equipment like generators in basements in the future and also run periodical tests to make sure they work.
As I said before numerous families are in the cold and dark but some are trying to make the most of a bad situation. One family, the Bagellas in Belmar, New Jersey, was sitting outside before a bonfire to keep warm. They have been pumping out water from their basement since Tuesday. Mom Shannon from Levittown in Nassau County NJ told ABC News 7 that she and her family have been in the cold and dark since Sunday. They were seen trying to eat dinner huddled under thick sweaters and by candlelight. In New Jersey, 2 million people are reportedly still without power.
In Manhattan, Bellevue Hospital didn’t evacuate during the storm but has to do so now due to extensive flooding in the basement which damaged the generators and electrical. 400 patients have already been moved and an additional 300 to be placed elsewhere by Thursday. Repairs will reportedly take 3-4 weeks to complete.
The hardest hit areas like Breezy Point, Queens, which was devastated by fire, Far Rockaway by floods, Fire Island and City Island, Seaside Heights in Atlantic City, NJ, Belmar, Coney Island Brooklyn, will take a concentrated efforts by FEMA, city officials, residents to recovery from the widespread damage—and though FEMA is there to help, President Obama also warned that there is a lot of work to be done and people need to “have realistic expectations.”
Damages in the US are now estimated at $50 billion.
If you have a little to spare and want to make a donation towards helping storm vicitms, text the word "redcross" to 90999 or call 1-800-redcross. If you're a storm vicitm and need help, you can apply to FEMA online here:FEMA Hotline and Disaster Assistance or call 1-800-621-FEMA.
Check back for updates.
To read my earlier articles on the storm, click links below: