Thousands in NYC lack power as temps drop
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As the recovery from superstorm Sandy made strides in lower Manhattan, more than 190,000 city residents were still without power as temperatures dropped Saturday.
Five days after the height of the storm, 80 percent of the subways are restored, public schools are reopening Monday and the number of customers without electricity is shrinking each day.
Among the biggest challenges is keeping people warm and making sure the elderly, families with infants and the infirm are sheltered from the cold.
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to use the city's shelters.
"We're trying to respond to an unprecedented emergency," he said Saturday at City Hall. "But 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."
Two more deaths attributed to the storm were confirmed Saturday, bringing the New York City death toll from Sandy to 41.
The most recent storm-related death was a 90-year-old Queens man, found in his basement wedged between a couch and a wall. He is presumed to have drowned, police said.
More than 190,000 customers in New York City, including 25,000 customers in the Rockaways, Queens, who rely on LIPA, are still without power -- down from more than 460,000 on Friday.
After four days of walking up 10 flights of stairs, Thaísa Lemos, 28, said those in her Lower East Side building were ecstatic when power was restored Friday night. "We could hear everyone screaming -- it was amazing," she said.
Bloomberg criticized LIPA for not restoring power fast enough to residents in the hardest-hit areas in the Rockaways. Warming centers have opened and officials have distributed more than 25,000 blankets to shelters in Queens and Staten Island.
In other signs of progress, the crane dangling atop a building under construction in midtown has been secured and workers Saturday also completed pumping out water from the World Trade Center site.
Businesses prepped for the beginning of a new week.
Restaurant owner Sylvester Schneider, 48, said he suffered $50,000 to $100,000 in storm damage -- none of it covered by insurance.
His eatery, Zum Schneider on Avenue C, was one of the few buildings in the area without power, but he was determined to open Sunday with a limited menu. "We've got to turn around money as fast as we can," he said.