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Bloomberg to NYers: Nor'easter expected, seek shelter

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg updates the

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg updates the media on the city's Sandy recovery efforts in this photo provided by the mayor's office. (Nov. 22, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday called on New Yorkers in low-lying areas to batten down the hatches in advance of a nor'easter expected to bring higher tides and rain to a city still feverishly trying to recover from Sandy.

The storm is expected to lash the five boroughs, particularly the coastal zones, with steady winds of 25 to 30 mph, gusts as high as 55 mph, and tidal surges up to 41/2 feet, Bloomberg said in his early afternoon storm update Tuesday at City Hall. The period of greatest concern is Wednesday, from late afternoon to midnight.

Although the winds and storm surge should be considerably less than Sandy's, beach erosion from last week's storm means some low-lying areas are vulnerable to new flooding, he said.

"The storm surge may be a little bit worse," said Bloomberg, referring to the effects of erosion.

Given the new storm, coupled with the colder weather, Bloomberg said he ordered police to use patrol car loudspeakers in some smaller areas flooded by Sandy to urge people to find shelter. However, no coastal evacuation is being ordered.

Because of winds and possible snow on trees, Bloomberg also is ordering all city parks, playgrounds and beaches closed as of noon Wednesday. Contractors must secure work sites and materials, and all exterior construction is to stop at noon, he said. Alternate side of the street parking is suspended for the day.

City Health Commissioner Tom Farley also ordered the evacuation of four health care facilities in the hard-hit Rockaways to protect residents and staff. And the Federal Emergency Management Agency is closing some information centers around the city as a precaution against the impending storm. The four centers will reopen when conditions permit, officials said.

Last night, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office announced that the Holland Tunnel, closed because of flooding since Oct. 29, would reopen to all commuter traffic Wednesday at 5 a.m.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg said the city was making steady progress in restoring power. Some 91,000 customers in the five boroughs were still without power as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, compared with 115,000 on Monday. About a third of those outages are in apartment buildings where equipment was damaged, he said.

"Even if power comes back to the area where your building is, work will have to be done in these buildings before the lights come on," Bloomberg said.

In public housing, Bloomberg hoped to have heat and power in most areas in a few days.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday that the city hasn't recorded a homicide in seven days, the last one on Oct. 29 -- before Sandy struck.

As of Monday, the city had 350 homicides, compared with 441 during the same period in 2011.

Officials said crime was down 27 percent for the storm week compared with the same period in 2011, with the only increase being a 6 percent climb in burglaries.

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