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MTA Slowly Restores Mass Transit As Evacuees Return Home

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MTA Slowly Restores Mass Transit As Evacuees Return Home
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Since Tropical Storm Irene weakened as it hit the city, evacuees from low-lying areas in the five boroughs were able to start to return home by Sunday evening and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority raced to restore mass transit for the Monday morning rush hour.

The storm, which brought driving rain and winds of up to 65 mph, was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane as it made landfall over Coney Island on Sunday morning.

Approximately 370,000 residents in coastal areas were ordered to evacuate their homes by 5 p.m. Saturday. Officials estimated around 9,600 New Yorkers were being lodged in one of 90 city storm shelters.

During a Sunday afternoon press briefing, the mayor said members of the city fire and buildings departments were assessing all "Zone A" properties, including those owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority.

Both the Metropolitan Transportation Department and city Department of Education coordinated bus shuttle service to transport NYCHA residents in "Zone A" shelters.

New Yorkers woke up Sunday morning to flooded streets, downed trees and power outages as Irene made its way through the five boroughs.

The mayor said while it was still too early to know the full extent of the damage, the city's preparations paid off and was relieved there were no reports of any deaths or serious injuries.

"Ultimately, I think it's fair to say we were just unwilling to risk the life of a single New Yorker," said Bloomberg. "I don't know whether because of our decisions nobody died, at least there's no reports of people dying because of the storm, or maybe it was just luck. But bottom line is, I would make the same decisions again without hesitation."

In a telephone interview with NY1 on Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the storm's damage and lingering danger "cannot be underestimated." He also praised New Yorkers who heeded warnings and took the necessary steps to prepare.

According to the Department of Sanitation, crews will begin limited trash and recycling collection on Monday as removal of storm debris continues.

Mass Transit Continues To Return

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said limited bus service resumed late Sunday afternoon, first in Manhattan and the Bronx, followed by Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Limited subway service was also scheduled to return at 6 a.m. Monday, since MTA officials found the system had fewer flooded areas than originally feared.

No fares were charged on Sunday, but they were scheduled to return at 5 a.m. Sunday.

Taxis and livery cabs were also switched from the zone-fare system back to their regular o help New Yorkers get around, city officials say the zone-fare system on taxis will also remain in place through Monday.

MTA Chairman Jay Walder told the press on Sunday that the unprecedented transit shutdown helped protect subway cars and equipment from the storm, and that crews inspected every line from beginning to end.

Walder said tracks serving the Long Island and Metro-North Rail Roads suffered the most damage.

A mudslide at the Metro-North's Hudson Line in the Riverdale section of the Bronx covered the tracks and crews were still trying to clear away debris.

However, Long Island Rail Road officials said late Sunday that there would be a near-normal Monday morning rush hour on the Babylon, Ronkonkoma, Huntington, Great Neck, West Hempstead and Hempstead branches.

There was expected to be no service on the Long Beach Branch, Far Rockaway Branch, and at points east of Ronkonkoma, east of Babylon and east of Great Neck.

The Staten Island Railway was scheduled to start running at midnight Sunday and Staten Island Ferry service resumed Sunday afternoon.

By Sunday evening, all MTA bridges and tunnels were open.

Limited tram and bus service to Roosevelt Island was restored on Sunday and normal weekday schedule service to Roosevelt Island will resume Monday at 6 a.m.

For more information, visit http://nyc.gov/tlc.

According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark-Liberty International Airport are expected to open for arriving flights at 6 a.m. Monday and will have departures by noon. LaGuardia Airport will have both arriving and departing flights by 7 a.m. Monday.

The AirTrain to JFK will run again at 4 a.m. Monday.

Service on the PATH system will resume Monday at 4 a.m. For more information, visit panynj.gov.

New Jersey Transit is running on a limited schedule on Monday, and details can be found at njtransit.com.

Meanwhile, Amtrak officials announced Sunday night that all its train service between Boston and Philadelphia has been canceled on Monday due to track flooding.

Multiple Agencies Tell New Yorkers To Stay Safe

Bloomberg said more than 650 trees have been uprooted citywide, leaving tens of thousands of Consolidated Edison customers without power.

The utility has 400 extra workers on hand to repair any damage caused by the storm and Con Ed officials said that the boroughs with the most outages, Queens and Staten Island, will have power fully restored by Tuesday.

Con Ed officials are distributing dry ice from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday. The Staten Island site is Tottenville High School at Luten Avenue and Eylandt Street and the Queens site is 134-40 Springfield Boulevard between Merrick Boulevard and 135th, by Pathmark and Home Depot.

Officials are urging New Yorkers to use common sense by avoiding any downed wires or damaged electrical equipment.

They should also be careful entering flooded basements, because if electrical equipment got wet, they would get injured.

Residents who experience a power outage or see damage to their power lines are being directed to call 1-800-75-CONED or visit CONED.com.

The American Red Cross advises New Yorkers to drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads, stay away from loose or dangling power lines and stay out of any building with water around it. If they are in the dark, they should use flashlights instead of candles.

Homeowners should also inspect their property and take pictures of any damage for insurance purposes. For more tips, visit nyredcross.org.

Meanwhile, two low-lying city hospitals that were ordered to evacuate on Friday reopened Sunday.

State health officials allowed the north and south campuses of Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) to start accepting inpatients on Sunday evening.

However, the city's low-lying areas -- Battery Park in Manhattan, the Rockaways in Queens, Brooklyn's Coney Island and South Beach on Staten Island -- could still be threatened by a surge of flood waters that may accompany high tide in the coming days.

President Barack Obama on Sunday urged all residents affected by the storm to remain cautious and to follow the directions of state and local officials.

He said the risk for flooding and power outages remains a concern.

"As I've told governors and mayors from across the affected area, if they need something, I want to know about it," the president said. "We're going to make sure that we respond as quickly and effectively as possible. And we're going to keep it up as long as hurricane season continues."

Obama praised first responders for their coordinated efforts to provide help and safety through the storm and said the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency will continue to work with state and local partners.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urged caution in the coming hours as residents living up and down the East Coast begin to dry out.

She said federal and local officials were in the response phase and were assessing damage caused by the storm.

A state of emergency was declared Saturday by the city, state and federal governments.

Alternate side of the street parking rules are suspended through Monday and drivers do not have to feed parking meters.

For more information, call 311 or visit nyc.gov.

Residents are also reminded to call 911 only in emergencies. For all non-emergencies, call 311.

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