Food, Water, Phone Recharges Being Distributed in NYC

Breezy Point lost 80 homes in fires due to Hurricane Sandy

Mayor Michael Bloomberg updated city residents today about progress made since one of the worst storms ever to hit New York City.

Reality is setting in among New Yorkers as they deal with the aftermath of this horrific storm, finding water and food, and dealing with the lack of electricity, phone service to contact loved ones, locating gasoline, and massive transportation problems.

At least 37 New Yorkers’ lives were taken during Hurricane Sandy, and that number may rise said Bloomberg.”You can’t bring back a family,” he said. In some instances it was trees falling, other times, people stepping on power cables. Others went out and surfed he said.

“A lot of our problems will be solved in a week or two weeks,” said the Mayor, comparing the storm to 9/11.

But speaking of some who were hit badly in the outlying areas of New York, “the bad news this was their hopes and dreams. You can’t just take money and replace work of a lifetime.”

Ironically crime is down, and other than a couple of arrests for stealing food, “there hasn’t been a murder in two days,” said the Mayor.

And some of the details of the impact of the storm are still emerging as emergency workers make their way through the damaged areas.

The city will begin distributing water and food to hard hit areas of the city today, until 6 PM.

Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T is promising to get cell service back in order quickly, and they will be setting up a special cell truck to allow New Yorkers to make calls and charge their cell phones. The pods will be located near the food and water distribution centers.

Some areas of the city will also have power restored, allowing restaurants and food stores to open.

Coney Island, the South Shore of Staten Island, the Lower East Side and Chinatown have been peppered with city flyers indicating how to deal with the recovery effort.

Four hundred national guard and 150 emergency personnel will be going door-to-door to meet with residents, and make sure they are healthy and have food and water.

The effort is keyed to helping those who cannot get around easily on their own, the elderly and the infirm.

The MTA has waived all fares on subways and buses as the transportation systems have begun their slow progress to service resumption. “I wish we could do that every day,” said the Mayor in a rare moment of jocularity during the press conference held today.

Still there is no subway service in lower Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

To ease transit issues, ferry service has been resumed from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan.

The HOV requirements, a 3-person minimum in every car entering Manhattan, is still in effect. The restrictions are in effect 6 AM to midnight today and Friday. “We are not equipped to grant exemptions,” said Bloomberg.

The only exception is the George Washington Bridge.

Traffic is being directed by the NYPD at intersections that lack signal power, and bus lanes have been established on many streets.

Crews from as far away as California are working to restore electrical service to the 534,000 customers who are still without power, more than 230,000 of them in lower Manhattan.

Con Ed indicated they are making better progress than anticipated, with the exception of those areas served by overhead lines, which will take longer.

The Mayor also asked that if you are using candles, exercise extreme caution: one of the fires in Rockaway was caused by candles.

City parks and playgrounds will be open again on Saturday, but Bloomberg warned that they remain closed today and tomorrow due to trees falling. Yesterday, two young children were outside playing and the tree collapsed killing both of them.

Bloomberg thanked construction companies across the city for helping keep their sites tied down, and preventing disasters from occurring across the city.

The Mayor said that on Monday they hope to have the HOV restrictions lifted, but does not expect the lower Manhattan tunnels to reopen.

For more information and updates on car restrictions, distribution areas across the city, shuttles, and subway service as well as FEMA disaster assistance, visit the city’s emergency website.

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