NYC bracing for more heavy weather

The U.S. National Weather Service predicted Sunday that a Nor'easter that could include gusts of up to 90 km/h is likely to reach the New York City area by Wednesday.

Falling temperatures put thousands without power at risk

It appears Mother Nature isn't quite finished with New York City yet.

The National Weather Service predicted Sunday that a Nor'easter with gusts of up to 90 km/h is likely to reach the area by Wednesday and could compound the havoc brought by Superstorm Sandy.

"Prepare for more outages," weather service meteorologist Joe Pollina advised. "Stay indoors, stock up again." He said the new storm wouldn't be nearly as strong as Sandy, but could pack winds "stronger than usual, even strong for a Nor'easter."

The worrisome forecast came as falling temperatures on Sunday put more people at risk in a region already battling gasoline shortages, stubborn power outages and spasms of lawlessness.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said New York City expects that it will have to find housing for 30,000 to 40,000 people.

"We don't have a lot of empty housing in the city. It's a problem to find housing," said the mayor, who added the city has too much donated clothing and food, urging people to donate money instead.

Bloomberg also announced Sunday afternoon that about 90 per cent of the schools in the city region will be open on Monday. However, they will shut down on Tuesday for the election.

Eight of the schools aren't opening because they are serving as emergency shelters, while another 57 have been damaged by the storm. As well, 143,000 New York City voters will be reassigned to different polling sites for Tuesday's U.S. presidential election. Bloomberg said the Board of Elections informed him of the plan on Sunday.

Residents line up for gasoline at a temporary fueling station at the National Guard armory in Staten Island. (Keith Bedfor/Reuters)

In a heavily flooded Staten Island neighbourhood without power, Sara Zavala spent the night under two blankets and layers of clothing. She had a propane heater but turned it on for only a couple of hours in the morning. She did not want to sleep with it running at night.

"When I woke up, I was like, 'It's freezing.' And I thought, 'This can't go on too much longer,"' said Zavala, a nursing home admissions co-ordinator. 

'We're going back to barbaric times'

On a basketball court flanked by powerless apartment buildings in the Far Rockaway section of Queens, volunteers for the city handed out bagels, diapers, water, blankets and other necessities. Genice Josey filled a garbage bag until it was bulging.

"Nights are the worst because you feel like you're outside when you're inside," said Josey, who sleeps under three blankets and wears longjohns under her pajamas. "It's like we're going back to barbaric times where we had to go find food and clothing and shelter."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the fuel shortages are improving but problems will persist for "a number of days."

With temperatures hovering below 0 C and more than 600,000 people still without power in the area, some who were planning to run in the cancelled New York City Marathon instead headed to Staten Island on Sunday morning to volunteer to help storm victims.

Other disappointed runners staged impromptu races of their own. Thousands poured into Central Park shortly after dawn including teams of runners from Italy, Germany and Spain who began running their own personal marathons. A little more than four laps around the park will do it.

Other States

  • New Jersey:  950,000 without power. Students returning to class on Monday.
  • Connecticut:  75,000 without power.
  • Pennsylvania:  91,000 with no power.
  • West Virginia:  53,000 without power.

- Associated Press

It's a throwback to the beginning of New York's marathon, which was run inside the park.

The city opened warming shelters in areas without power, and Bloomberg was urging older residents without heat to move to them. The city also was handing out 25,000 blankets to residents who insist on staying in powerless homes.

"So please, I know sometimes people are reticent to take advantage of services. The cold really is something that is dangerous," he said after a visit to the Rockaways section of Queens.

Sandy in the U.S. by the numbers

  • Maximum size of storm: 1,609 kilometres across.
  • Highest storm surge: 4.23 metres, at New York.
  • Number of states seeing intense effects of the storm: At least 17.
  • Deaths: More than 100 in the U.S.
  • Damage: Estimated at $50 billion,
  • Top wind gust on land in the U.S.:  225 km/h, at Mount Washington, N.H.
  • Power outages at peak: 8.5 million customers affected.

Sources: National Weather Service, Associated Press

Though New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the destruction, at its peak, the storm reached 1,600 kilometres across, killed more than 100 people in 10 states, knocked out power to 8.5 million and forced the cancellation of nearly 20,000 flights. Economic damage was estimated at $50 billion, putting the storm among the most expensive disasters in the U.S.

Among the biggest challenges over the weekend was the gasoline shortage. Lines curled around filling stations for many blocks all over the stricken region, including northern New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie imposed rationing that recalled the worst days of fuel shortages of the 1970s.

Christie urged people not to hoard gas: "There’s going to be more [gas] in a few days. We are not running out ... People should just calm down and not panic about it."

Line jumpers arrested

At a filling station in Mount Vernon, N.Y., north of New York City, 62 cars were lined up around the block Sunday morning even though it was closed and had no fuel.

"I heard they might be getting a delivery. So I came here and I'm waiting," said the first driver on line, Earl Tuck, 75, of Mount Vernon. He had been there at least two hours by 9 a.m., and there was no delivery truck in sight.

Bulldozers push sand across a sea wall past the remains of a beach front home in Bay Head, N.J. (Tom Mihalek/Reuters)

"We are expecting a delivery. But yesterday we weren't expecting one, and we got one, so I don't know," he said.

And fears about crime, especially at night in darkened neighbourhoods, persisted.

Officers in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island early Saturday saw a man in a Red Cross jacket checking the front doors of unoccupied houses and arrested him on a burglary charge. After complaints about people posing as utility workers to gain access to people's homes, police on Long Island reminded residents that most repair work will be done outside so legitimate workers usually have no need to enter a home.

More than two million customers remained without power in several states after Sandy came ashore Monday night.

About 650,000 still don't have electricity in the New York metropolitan area, including about 460,000 on Long Island. About 80 per cent of New York City's subway service has been restored.