With temperatures dipping into the 30s overnight and about 700,000 homes and businesses in New York City, the northern suburbs and Long Island still without electricity six days after Hurricane Sandy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that many homes are becoming uninhabitable and that tens of thousands of people are going to need other places to stay.
Power companies had restored electricity to more than 50,000 in the Hudson Valley on Saturday, with 192,365 still without power Sunday morning. Outage numbers for Sunday morning were -- 119,890 in Westchester; 40,650 in Rockland; 20,231 in Orange; 1,661 in Dutchess; 1,063 in Ulster; and 8,870 in Putnam.
County Executive Rob Astorino said Saturday he was in contact with local power companies, and has been "pressing them to be as fast as possible" with repair efforts.
"People are frustrated and angry," said Astorino, who had power restored to his own home Saturday."Those who don't have power want it back on now, I understand that."
In the meantime, an incoming storm system has the potential to cause additional coastal flooding, gusty winds and a so-called wintry mix of rain and snow, forecasts predict. Meteorologists were tracking the storm's potential path and said it could impact the Hudson Valley area by midweek.
John Berglund, director of emergency services for the Salvation Army, said plummeting temperatures have increased the need for blankets and hot food supplies.
"It's getting really cold out there and blankets are the one thing that's most needed as a lot of people are still going without heat and power," Berglund said.
For people sitting in the dark, the plummeting temperatures brought on new anxieties.
In Stony Point, JoAnn Eiwas said it was becoming more difficult to scavenge gas for a borrowed generator her family was using. She said she was especially worried about her downstairs neighbor, who uses an oxygen machine and a medical bed.
"They keep telling us (power will be restored) sometime this week, but it's 30-something degrees and this generator keeps running out of gas," Eiwas said.
With less than 72 hours before the election, officials also turned their attention toward polling locations. Of 380 polling spots in Westchester County, 92 remained without power as of Saturday afternoon, according to the county.
"We believe we will have them all covered and ready for Tuesday," Astorino told Newsday on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had released a tersely worded statement warning utility executives of consequences if the state learns the drawn-out repair timetables are a result of inadequate preparation for a storm that left at least 41 dead in New York -- five in all from Westchester, Rockland and the Hudson Valley.
Cuomo threatened the private utility companies -- including Con Edison, Central Hudson and Orange & Rockland Utilities -- with revocation of "the privilege to conduct utility business" in New York, taking aim at managers and executives at the companies.
"It goes without saying that such failures would warrant the removal of the management responsible for such colossal misjudgments," Cuomo said.
Con Edison didn't respond directly to the criticism, and a spokeswoman said the complaints would not change the company's plans.
"There are a lot of things that go into the planning process, and one of those things is sending crews to places that will restore as many people as possible," Con Edison spokeswoman Sara Banda said.
On Saturday morning, Cuomo announced plans for free gas distribution in New York City and Long Island; no plans were announced for free fuel in the Hudson Valley. As it turned out, the gas was meant only for emergency vehicles initially. FEMA refused to answer questions about the misinformation, referring questions to Cuomo's office.
The 5,000 gallon trucks distributing the fuel are part of a fleet sent to New York and New Jersey by President Obama, who late Friday announced he had ordered the purchase of up to 12 million gallons of unleaded fuel and up to 10 million gallons of diesel fuel for distribution in areas impacted by Sandy to supplement private sector efforts.
Cuomo said the fuel shortage was being addressed in several ways, including suspending normal fuel distribution requirements and opening more barge terminals for deliveries.
"The shortage of gasoline in the New York-metro area has caused major inconveniences for our residents, and the state must take every action possible to address this issue," Cuomo said.
Westchester County's Department of Consumer Protection had received reports of price gouging at the pumps, and Astorino said any verified cases would result in prosecution.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said the fuel purchase is part of efforts by governments, private organizations and others to help the region recover from the weather disaster.
Earlier in the day, Cuomo's office announced that a barge carrying two million gallons of fuel had arrived in Newburgh.
"There should be a real change in conditions," Cuomo said of the fuel situation Friday. "People should see it quickly."
With The Associated Press