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One Week Later

Straphangers, Schools Get Back On Track As City Names Housing Recovery Director

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TWC News: One Week Later

Straphangers, Schools Get Back On Track As City Names Housing Recovery Director
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New York City students headed back to class after last week's massive storm and transit operations continued to return to normal Monday as Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new directors of the city's housing recovery effort.

Brad Gair has been named director of housing recovery operations.

He was previously appointed federal recovery officer in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and also served as deputy commissioner for the city's Office of Emergency Management from 2006 to 2009.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Mayor Bloomberg said Gair's job will be to coordinate transitional and temporary home placements for all New Yorkers displaced by the storm.

"We know it will take a while, it will be difficult, there will be bumps along the road. We believe we have the resources to get this done," Gair said. "The experiences I've had on other disasters, doing similar projects, I've seen it done well and not so well. So I have the lessons learned and the expertise to try to put this back into place as quickly as possible."

Bloomberg also announced the appointment of four Community Recovery Directors who will ensure residents have access to information about the services available to them.

As of Monday afternoon, Bloomberg said 114 New York City Housing Authority buildings, housing 21,000 people, were still without power, and even more were without heat and hot water.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are also working on long-term housing options for residents who lost their homes to damages from Sandy. Already, 114,000 city residents have registered with FEMA for housing assistance.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority continued to bring transit services back online – but warned that commuters should expect delays and service disruptions even as service picks up.

For the latest updates, visit mta.info.

Approximately 90 percent of all city schools opened Monday, while others remain closed due to damage or lack of power. Other schools that will soon double as shelters were also closed Monday.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott says about 86 percent of students reported to class Monday in the reopened schools.

Information on school relocations and cancelations are available online, or by calling 311.

The mayor is warning parents that some buildings may not have heat.

"So please dress your children with that in mind. If the schools were dangerously cold, we obviously wouldn't open them, but if they're chilly, extra sweaters for the kids is something that should make some sense," Bloomberg told reporters.

All city schools will be closed Tuesday for Election Day.

The Diocese of Brooklyn says over 1,400 children have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy from the following schools: Ave Maria Catholic Academy, Howard Beach; St. Camillus School, Rockaway Beach; St. Francis de Sales School, Belle Harbor; St. Helen’s School, Howard Beach; and St. Rose of Lima School, Rockaway Beach.

Diocese officials say they are assessing the affected school buildings to determine when they can reopen and are also working to find alternative sites.

Families of students who attend these schools are urged to call 1-800-963-6715 for more information.

Meantime, as temperatures in the city turn colder, out-of-state National Guard members are helping distribute food, water and other necessities to displaced New Yorkers and warming shelters remain open to New Yorkers without homes.

The mayor stressed Sunday that donors for Sandy relief efforts need to give money, since there has been a large outpouring of supplies like food and clothes.

He also said one of the biggest concerns right now is the cold weather. With temperatures plummeting and people lacking power and homes, he is urging them to visit emergency shelters.

See a list of warming shelters provided by the city.

Hundreds of residents from the hardest-hit areas are being taken by bus to spend the night at city-provided emergency warming shelters. Transportation to the shelters is provided from six locations across the five boroughs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said more than 850 soldiers and 250 vehicles from National Guard units in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Massachusetts will bring help run food and water distribution sites and help out local police and fire departments.

These National Guard members will stay at Floyd Bennett Field in Queens.

Scores of charities, as well as corporations and individuals, have joined the city in helping to provide food, blankets, and other supplies to victims of the storm.

Meanwhile, city residents have been struggling to gas up their cars as lines at some service stations stretch down the street for several blocks.

The mayor said Monday the fuel supply remains below normal, but there are supplies from interstate pipelines coming in.

He said barges carrying 21 million gallons of gasoline also unloaded at local terminals over the weekend, and more are expected to arrive.

It will take a while to distribute to gas stations, so the mayor asked drivers to be patient and use mass transit.

Police officers have also been deployed to every open gas station in the city to keep the long lines orderly and safe.

Cuomo and Bloomberg have urged New Yorkers to not hoard their supplies, especially gas.

The U.S. Energy Department established a team Sunday to identify local gas stations that may need emergency generators or are running low on fuel.

Drivers are warned that due to long lines and high demand, emergency personnel and first responder vehicles would be given first priority.

A new online tool at gasbuddy.com/sandy directs users to stations where gas is available.

The site is urging users to update fuel availability information so that drivers looking for gasoline can find it.

GasBuddy is also working with gas stations to keep its information updated.

Over the weekend, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky announced that 80 percent of the city's taxi fleet was working on Saturday night, and that the number of taxi rides citywide has continued to rise.

Due to the substantial restoration of citywide MTA bus and subway service, the TLC says starting at 11:59 p.m. Monday livery cabs will no longer be able to pick up street hails and taxicabs will no longer be able to pick up multiple passengers.

The restrictions were temporarily lifted to help New Yorkers get around easier in the days following the storm.

Power And Other Services

Nearly a week after large parts of the city went dark, Consolidated Edison officials said late Monday that power was restored to 846,000 of its customers out of the 960,000 who lost power in the storm.

By 10 p.m. Monday evening, more than 71,000 Con Ed customers in New York City were still without power, including roughly 28,000 in Queens, 13,000 on Staten Island, 22,000 in Brooklyn, 6,000 in the Bronx and 2,000 in Manhattan.

At one point Tuesday night, there were more than 650,000 customers without power across the city, including 59 New York City Housing Authority developments.

Many customers in Midtown and Lower Manhattan had their power restored Friday evening after Con Ed made repairs to the East 14th Street substation that was damaged by Sandy last Sunday night. Hours earlier, Con Ed restored power to 84,000 Staten Island customers in some of the hardest-hit areas.

The utility says if Manhattan customers are still without power, it's likely due to damaged equipment in the streets, or wind or water damage to individual buildings.

Con Ed officials are also urging Manhattan residents south of 34th Street to avoid using non-essential appliances, such as washing machines and dryers and elevator banks, as the company reinforces its underground electrical systems.

The utility also said that 1,967 customers lost their gas during the storm, and that 229 had their service restored by Sunday afternoon.

The remaining customers had gas available to them, according to Con Ed, but for 649 customers, gas was brought back and is available to customer but there are still some factors that are needed to restore them (i.e. basements are flooded, electricity needed).

According to John Miksad, Con Ed's senior vice president of electrical operations, 550 customers south of 14th Street are still without steam. Miksad said that Con Ed will work to restore those 550 customers throughout the week.

The Long Island Power Authority website says it hopes to restore power for 90 percent of all customers, including those in the Rockaways, by Wednesday, November 7.

Emergency generators were also sent to Hamill Houses in Far Rockaway, Queens.

Con Ed officials said it could take until next weekend or even longer to complete all the necessary repairs.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has some harsh words Monday for the utilities responsible for bringing back power after Hurricane Sandy.

Cuomo said his being "angry, frustrated, disappointed would be the understatement of the decade."

He said hundreds of thousands of people are still without power a week after the storm hit and the utilities will be judged on their performance when it comes to future contracts.

"The utilities were not created in the Bible. They are not in the Old Testament, not in the New Testament. God never said, 'New York should have these utilities forever, and Con Ed is the utility and there's nothing you can do about it. It's not in the Bible," Cuomo said. "We made that decision as a people though the government. What we say to the utilities are, 'We are going to give you a franchise, a license, a charter to perform a service, but you have to perform a service.'"

Cuomo said he understands getting power back takes time in such a catastrophic storm, but if utilities do not give the service they promise, the government will find another company that can.

He said he will give utilities the chance to explain their case, but he believes service was inadequate.

Cuomo says utilities did not have a comprehensive plan to deal with the storm, and did not communicate with residents who depend on them.

The Department of Sanitation is making scheduled garbage collections as post-storm conditions permit, although recycling collections remain suspended.

The U.S. Postal Service says letter carriers in the hard-hit Rockaways will expand further on Tuesday.

Residents who live in an area with a 11691, 11692, 11693, 11694, 11697 or a 11096 zip code will have their mail delivered where conditions are safe and passable.

The Far Rockaway Main Post Office will continue to hand out mail for all post office box customers throughout the Rockaways.

Residents with any questions or concerns about their mail should call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).

Response And Relief

A particular area of concern is the Rockaways in Queens, which is currently coping with extensive damage left behind by Sandy.

The mayor criticized the Long Island Power Authority, which serves the peninsula for "not acting aggressively enough."

"We realize that LIPA has outages throughout Long Island, but the Rockaways were the hardest hit by the storm and when it comes to prioritizing resources, we think they should be first in line. So far that has not appeared to be the case and that is just not acceptable," Bloomberg said Saturday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo on Saturday announced that one million meals will be distributed over the next few days to help struggling New Yorkers. He also said that President Obama has approved a request to raise food stamp allocations by 50 percent this month.

On Friday, Cuomo announced homeowners devastated by the storm will be getting some support from the state.

The governor says the state legislature is setting aside $100 million to help cover some of the costs that will not be paid for by private insurance and FEMA aid.

The governor says if that's not enough they will try to find more funds.

Meantime, the Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services, working with the New York City Office of Emergency Management, planned to distribute food at 14 different locations in four boroughs Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

View a list of Salvation Army food distribution locations.

As of Saturday, police confirmed at least 40 deaths caused by Sandy.

Among the deaths reported on Staten Island include two young boys who were swept away in the surge as well as an off-duty police officer who drowned after rescuing his family from rising waters in his South Beach home.

The most severe damage from the storm is being reported in and around the city's low-lying areas, especially the Rockaways and on Staten Island.

Department of Buildings inspectors are roving through Zone A areas to asses the structural integrity of homes. That needs to happen before the evacuation order will be lifted for those areas.

Inspections are happening in Lower Manhattan, the Rockaways and on Staten Island.

Buildings will be tagged with a placard. Green means the building is safe to enter; Red means the building is not safe and may not be entered; and Yellow means the building can be occupied conditionally (i.e. one floor may be safe but another is not). The conditions will be explained on the placard.

Inspections of the Staten Island Zone A buildings are scheduled to be complete by the end of the weekend.

The state is also launching an emergency assistance hotline to help people and businesses hit hard by the storm to start rebuilding. The number is 855-NYS-SANDY or 855-697-7263. Cuomo says he hopes the hotline will help people avoid bureaucracy.

Transit & Traffic Info

The MTA continued Monday to restore service on subway lines throughout the city.

MTA officials said that by Tuesday morning A train service will extend to 207th Street, C train service will extend to 168th Street, the B train will run between Bedford Park Boulevard in the Bronx and Kings Highway in Brooklyn and the Q train will run from 57th Street–7th Avenue in Manhattan to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.

View Monday evening's subway service map.

There was no G service late Monday.

MTA officials admitted restoring G service is a low priority, since the line has much flooding and fewer riders.

Regular fares are back in effect after being suspended Thursday and Friday.

The Staten Island Railway also started service Saturday, with limited runs between St. George and Tottenville.

There will be no weekday express service in the morning and evening rush hours. During those hours, trains will run every 15 minutes to coincide with ferry departures and arrivals.

During off-peak hours, trains will run every 30 minutes.

The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad is also being restored.

Many of the city's bus routes are back up and running. However, those located in some of the hardest-hit areas are being re-routed with limited service.

The Port Authority says it is restoring limited PATH train service on Tuesday.

Trains will run in both directions from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. between Journal Square in Jersey City to 33rd Street in Manhattan.

The agency says disabled riders will only have access at those two platforms.

PATH tunnels suffered heavy flooding due to Sandy.

Service remains suspended between Newark Penn Station and Journal Square, as well as Hoboken, Exchange Place and the World Trade Center.

Rides will be free for Tuesday only.

For the latest subway, bus, and commuter rail updates, visit mta.info.

Alternate-side parking will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday.

Nearly all of the city's bridges are back open to traffic and driving restrictions in and out of Manhattan have been lifted.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal is offering normal service.

On Sunday, Gov. Cuomo's office announced suspensions of tolls for the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, which lead drivers to and from the Rockaways. The suspensions will be applied retroactive to when the bridges opened after the storm.

According to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, E-ZPass tolls paid since the Rockaways bridges reopened will be retroactively credited back to customers’ accounts.

According to Gov. Cuomo's office, the suspension of tolls will last through the end of November as recovery efforts continue.

The Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel remains closed due to flooding.

One lane of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel has reopened to buses only.

One south-bound lane of the Holland Tunnel is open to buses traveling from New Jersey to Manhattan from 5:30 to 10 a.m. and west-bound buses returning to New Jersey from 1 to 9 p.m.

The Lincoln Tunnel has reopened.

All three major airports — John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark — are back up and running.

Staten Island Ferry service resumed on Friday.

NY Waterway's East River ferry service and the World Financial Ferry are running on a limited service schedule.

Cargo containers also entered the Port of New York/Newark on Monday for the first time since Sandy.

Amtrak continued to make repairs Monday to parts of its system damaged by Sandy.

It started limited service Monday on its Acela Express and Northeast Regional lines as well as the Northeast Corridor between Boston, New York City and Washington.

All long-distance trains will operate normally to and from New York City, except for the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago and the Maple Leaf line to Toronto.

Amtrak says to avoid delays, passengers should make reservations and pay in advance by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL or at amtrak.com.

Health And Hospitals

According to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, storm damage, power outages and flooding forced the evacuations of Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and Coney Island in Brooklyn, and those patients were brought to neighboring facilities.

By Sunday, HHC officials said water was still being pumped from the basement of Bellevue, and the hospital is expected to open in another two weeks.

Coney Island Hospital's outpatient clinics and ambulatory service will be available Monday, but its emergency room and in-patient areas will be closed.

A HHC health center in the Lower East Side, Gouverneur Health on 227 Madison Street, will offer limited outpatient and ambulatory care on Monday.

Meanwhile, NYU Langone Medical Center officials say that their main campus and emergency department will be closed on Monday.

Some of NYU Langone's ambulatory service will be available Monday, and some of its branch offices will be open Monday, including offsite offices, the Hospital for Joint Diseases, the Center for Musculoskeletal Care, the Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and the Clinical Cancer Center.

The Department of Environmental Protection says the city's water supply is larger safe to drink, and that extra chlorine has been added to the water.

Update: One exception is in Breezy Point, Queens, where city officials say tap water is not drinkable, even if boiled. Residents there for now should drink bottled water. City officials say the advisory is specific to Breezy Point as water is being returned for firefighting purposes only. Officials reiterate the city’s tap water remains safe for all other areas of the city.

The city Department of Health says that New Yorkers should avoid swimming, boating or coming into direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Kull until further notice.

Cuomo has suspended state regulations to make it easier for manufacturers to donate water to those affected by Sandy. The executive order permits waivers excluding manufacturers from container deposit requirements.

For instance, Anheuser-Busch had packaged thousands of cases of canned, portable drinking water for victims. But since the company does not usually produce water distributed in New York, it did not have the certification to distribute it and needed the Department of Health's approval.

The suspension will remain in effect until Friday in order to aid emergency relief efforts.

Libraries, Schools, Parks And Recreation

Central Park welcomed visitors back starting Saturday at 8 a.m. and the Bronx Zoo also reopened Saturday.

The Central Park Zoo remains closed and the New York Aquarium is closed indefinitely.

All branches of the New York Public Library went through Sandy without any damages. However, some remain closed due to power loss.

To find out if a particular branch is open, visit nypl.org.

The Rochdale Village and Hollis branches of the Queens Library are reopening for the first time on Tuesday.

On Monday, Baruch College announced that it will make up classes lost last week by holding Sunday classes through the end of the semester.

Meanwhile, the TKTS Downtown Brooklyn booth, which offers Broadway tickets, is expected to reopen on Tuesday morning.

List Of Salvation Army Food Distribution Sites

The following is a list of food distribution centers set up by The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services.

Queens:
• Rockaways: Conch Playground – 51st Street & Rockaway Beach Boulevard; Hammel Playground – 84th Street & Rockaway Beach Boulevard; Red Fern House Playground – Redfern Avenue & Beach 12th Street
• Astoria: Hallets Cove – Vernon Blvd & 30th Road

Brooklyn:
• Coney Island: Surf Island Playground – West 25th Street & Surf Avenue
• Red Hook: Coffey Park – 85 Richards Street

Manhattan:
• Chelsea: Chelsea Park – West 27th Street, between 9th & 10th Avenues
• Lower East Side: Vladic Playground – East 10th Street, between C & D Avenues; Al Smith Playground – Catherine Street, between Cherry & Monroe Streets; Hamilton Fish – Pitt Street & East Houston Street
• Other: Grand Street Settlement Houses – 413 Grand Street; Confucius Plaza on Division Street

Staten Island:
• Parking Lot – corner of Mill Road & New Dorp Lane
• Empty Lot – corner of Yetman and Ylon Boulevard

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