Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency for President Barack Obama, visited storm hit areas on the Rockaway Peninsula, Coney Island and Manhattan Monday.
She said federal agencies have already distributed nearly $200 million in FEMA disaster relief aid, and that with 4,800 FEMA workers currently in the New York region, the agency was doing all it could.
She warned area residents to make advance preparations for a storm that is forecast to arrive with heavy rains, bitingly cold winds and the possibility of another tidal surge on Wednesday. The wintry weather could exact a savage toll on residents who are already without power, and some of whom have no homes or warm clothes.
"As much as already has been done, we know a nor'easter is coming our way," Napolitano said while visiting a Brooklyn FEMA staging center where food and supplies were being distributed at the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium parking lot on Surf Avenue in Coney Island.
She said the president had made available to the region more than 20 million gallons of unleaded gasoline and diesel fuel in an effort to relieve spot shortages. Some stations reopened after receiving deliveries Monday, and were instantly mobbed by long lines of motorists and pedestrians toting red gas cans.
Napolitano said her agency was doing what it could to find vacant apartments, hotel rooms or other temporary housing for the tens of thousands who have been displaced from flooded or wind-damaged homes. She said there is a possibility that FEMA would house some displaced residents in trailers or prefabricated homes, as it had done for victims of Hurricane Katrina. She said it was not certain where such temporary housing might be located, or even if displaced residents might be offered FEMA housing outside the New York area.
"We're in the process of looking at all options for housing," she said. "Given the extent of the housing need, no option is off the table."