In the wake of Sandy, a slow but steady recovery for New York
Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York, life is slowly crawling back to normal, but a full recovery may still be a long way away.
As crews tirelessly work to restore power, transit service and gas back to the city, thousands of families remain devastated in Sandy's wake. But the city is hopeful that a path to pre-Sandy days might be in sight.
"The city has been working around-the-clock to meet the needs of people living in the areas that were hit hardest," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday during his weekly radio address. "And every day, we're expanding our efforts."
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has estimated that statewide damage from the hurricane could cost some $33 billion, and he loudly criticized the response of some utility companies. But yesterday he praised the MTA's effort to restore mass transit in the city to help life get back to normal.
"We are continuing step-by-step to bring back our public transportation system after the tremendous damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, and the restoration of most of the LIRR service will help alleviate inconveniences caused by this catastrophic storm," Cuomo said. "I commend the hard work done by the MTA to get the regional transportation system running again so New Yorkers can get back to normal life as quickly as possible."
Here's how recovery efforts are coming along:
The city's mass transit system continues to crawl back into service. The PATH train will resume service back into Manhattan, the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is set to reopen this morning for rush-hour buses and the A train Sunday was extended to Howard Beach.
PATH service will resume at the Newark Penn and Harrison stations into Manhattan starting at 5 a.m. Monday, with trains running in both directions until 10 p.m. between Newark Penn and 33rd Street in New York.
The train will stop at the 14th, 23rd and 33rd Street stations in Manhattan, bypassing Christopher and Ninth streets. Officials warned to expect heavy delays.
The extension of the A line fixes one of the few remaining holes in the system, but full service to the Rockaway Peninsula could be up to six months away.
"This segment of the A was especially hard hit, as was the Rockaway Peninsula, and to be able to get service back to these neighborhoods is a priority for us," MTA chief Joe Lhota said.
In the meantime, the MTA has opened a free shuttle from Far Rockaway/Mott Avenue to Howard Beach. Expect delays.
Despite more access into lower Manhattan, motorists still need to watch their fuel gauges and calendars. The city's gas rationing system will remain in effect for this week. Cars that have license plates that end in even numbers can fill up Monday, while plates with odd numbers or letters can gas up on odd days. Commercial vehicles, taxis and special plates, such as MD, are exempt.
Bloomberg said the system, which went into effect in the city, Nassau and Suffolk counties on Friday, has reduced lines at gas stations that are desperately awaiting new supplies or electricity. Some motorists, such as Dave Mevorah, 23, who needs his van for work and gassed up on Friday, agreed.
"I've been waiting for 40 minutes. Before that I was waiting four hours," he said.
Despite the smaller crowds, owners of functional stations said they are still not out of the clear. Enam Khan, an attendant at the BP gas station at 36th Street and 10th Avenue, said his station runs out of fuel by midafternoon each day.
The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel will open Monday morning for buses only from 6 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 7 p.m. Officials didn't have a timetable for when it will fully reopen and they said to expect delays.
The tunnel was flooded with some 43 million gallons of water in both its tubes, officials said, causing "extensive corrosion damage to the electrical, lighting, communications, surveillance and ventilation systems in each tunnel."
The Queens Midtown Tunnel reopened to traffic on Friday.
Power is coming back on for more people in the city, with about 27,000 ConEd customers still dark, down from about 70,000 at the end of last week, Mayor Bloomberg's office said Sunday.
About 3,000 of those customers were expected to have power restored by this morning. The remaining customers must have an electrician inspect and fix damage to internal equipment in their homes before power can be restored, ConEd said.
The company estimates that damages from Hurricane Sandy and last week's nor'easter are somewhere between $350 million and $450 million. Most of the damage is from Sandy, according to ConEd.
"Sandy caused five times as many outages as the next largest storm in Con Edison history, Hurricane Irene," the company said. We have "gone through a year's worth of some materials since Hurricane Sandy struck."
An additional 39,100 LIPA customers were still dark, mostly on Long Island, but including parts of Queens, the mayor's office said.
(with Heather Senison)