Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Fuel Shortage

Mayor Enacts Gas Rationing Effort As Supply Chain Struggles

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TWC News: Fuel Shortage

Mayor Enacts Gas Rationing Effort As Supply Chain Struggles
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As the city continues to recover from both Sandy's damage and a follow-up nor'easter, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday signed an executive order to enact odd/even gas rationing measures across the five boroughs.

Starting Friday at 6 a.m. passenger vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number, a letter or other character will only be able to fill up at the pump on odd number days.

Those ending in an even number or a zero will only be able to fill up on even number days.

It will remain in effect until further notice.

Commercial vehicles, emergency vehicles, buses and paratransit vehicles, medical doctor plates and vehicles licensed by the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission are exempt.

The rationing effort will also be in place in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Mayor Bloomberg says the measure aims to cut down long gas lines being experienced by drivers here in the city and beyond.

"This is not a step that we take lightly. But, given the shortage we will face over the next few weeks, and the growing frustrations of New Yorkers, we believe it is the right step," Bloomberg said.

Mayor Bloomberg says a similar system enacted in New Jersey has cut down wait times from two hours to 45 minutes.

Both the mayor and Governor Andrew Cuomo say the main problem is getting the fuel from terminals to stations.

Tankers are facing long waits to get refilled at the terminals and long lines of cars are complicating the process of distributing the gas to the stations.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Cuomo ruled out gas rationing on the state level, but acknowledged the supply chain has its flaws.

"The delivery system for fuel, however you want to say it, is, I believe, one of the points of severe vulnerability," said Cuomo. "I mean, look how fast you can shut down the region just by shutting down the pumps. And many things shut down the pumps, as we learned the hard way. Power outage shuts down the pumps. Storms shut down the pumps."

The governor also added that people buying more than they need is adding to the problem.

The website 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.

Meanwhile, several officials are stepping up the fight against price gouging in the aftermath of Sandy.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has announced he is forming a special Rackets Grand Jury.

It will investigate claims that businesses like hotels, gas stations, and contractors raised prices illegally to profit off Hurricane Sandy.

Those who claim to be collecting money for charities but instead keep contributions will also be investigated.

"The sad part of any tragedy is it brings out the best and the very worst in people," Hynes said. "And certainly, those people who are overcharging folks, for example, for hotel rooms, ought to be ashamed of themselves, and they may very well have to pay a criminal penalty."

As part of his own price gouging investigation, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reportedly subpoenaed Craigslist in an effort to find users who posted ads selling gas for inflated prices.

One ad offers 12 gallons for $300.

City Recuperates From Wednesday Nor'easter


Wednesday night's blanket of thick, wet snow snapped storm-weakened trees and downed power lines in parts of the city already struggling in the aftermath of Sandy, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers, some of whom had just gotten it back.

Most areas in the city received anywhere between three and six inches of snow, which quickly stuck to trees and sidewalks.

Bayside, Queens reported 7.9 inches of snow, while Central Park reported 4.7 inches and LaGuardia Airport at just over an inch.

Consolidated Edison says the latest storm knocked out power to about 55,000 customers in the city and Westchester.


That comes on top of the 67,000 in the same area that Con Ed crews were still working to restore from Sandy.

Power has been restored to some but about 25,000 customers are still in the dark, the majority of which are in Queens.

The utility says the nor'easter temporarily delayed power restorations, preventing crews from working on overhead equipment.

A Con Ed spokesman tells NY1 customers in low-lying areas affected by Sandy will not be getting power restored anytime soon.

Con Ed's figures do not include the hard-hit Rockaways, which are served by the Long Island Power Authority.

LIPA said it has 262,000 customers throughout the region without power, including 60,000 whose homes are too damaged to be re-electrified.

It's not clear how many of those customers are actually in the Rockaways. NY1 reached out to the utility for an answer but has not heard back.

The city is working with Con Ed to set up inspections and hand out reoccupation stickers.

The utility also hopes to get all steam customers back up and running this weekend.

At one point on Oct. 30, there were more than 650,000 customers without power across the city, including 59 New York City Housing Authority developments.


Customers can report downed power lines and outages by calling 1-800-75-CON ED or by going online to coned.com.

The head of the New York City Housing Authority says he hopes to have power, heat and hot water up and running for everyone in public housing within a week.

13,000 residents are still in the dark, while 21,000 remain without heat and hot water.

Speaking on Inside City Hall, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea said Sandy affected double the amount of public housing residents originally projected.

Rhea said they're bringing in temporary boilers and generators to fix the situation as soon as possible, but he said the buildings affected need to be prepared in order to be fixed.

"We first, before we can install a boiler or get it repowered or to get a generator installed, in that case, the switch gear has to be good," Rhea said. "And so in some cases, it's not just if power is restored to the grid or we can get the equipment in. It's also that we have to do the pre-work. And so we've got over 40 crews out in the city right now ensuring that that work is done so when that equipment arrives, we can get it running."

Rhea says the latest day electricity will be restored is Monday and heat and hot water should be back by mid-next week.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg waived the city's sulfur limit in heating oil Thursday to help more New Yorkers get heat faster. The waiver will last through Dec. 7, when the .15 percent sulfur limit will be reinstated.

The city has also allowed contractors to provide basic information for emergency work permits for boiler repairs and replacements to reduce the application timeline by as much as two weeks.

Transit and Travel Latest


Wednesday's nor'easter has impacted travel in and out of the New York City metropolitan area.

Major airlines have canceled some 600 flights on top of the 1,600 canceled Wednesday.

It comes as the airports were just getting back to normal on the heels of Sandy.

Passengers are urged to call their carrier before heading to the airport.

Meantime, Thursday morning's commute was relatively calmer.

The Long Island Rail Road is still operating on a modified schedule after dealing with incidents each of the last two nights.


Service on multiple lines was temporarily suspended Thursday night because of an unauthorized person being struck by a train at Queens Village and a car on the tracks east of Westbury.

Train service was also suspended twice Wednesday night as trees fell and power lines were damaged, and Penn Station was shut down temporarily due to overcrowding.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota says he's confident mass transit will completely recover from Sandy, but thinks the city needs to be better prepared next time.

The agency says service to 95 percent of the subway system has been restored.

Service on the L train between Brooklyn and Manhattan resumed Thursday afternoon.

Service on the Z line remains suspended.

For the latest transit updates, visit mta.info.

The Port Authority has restored limited PATH train service.

Trains are running in both directions between Journal Square and 33rd Street, except for the Christopher and 9th Street stations.

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

The Port Authority Bus Terminal is offering normal service.

Tolls are suspended through the end of November for Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, which lead drivers to and from the Rockaways.

MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota says that any E-ZPass tolls paid since these bridges reopened after the storm will be retroactively credited back to customers’ accounts.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced the Queens-Midtown Tunnel will reopen to all traffic on Friday.

Both tubes will be open at 6 a.m.

Cuomo says the tunnel will be fully operational. However, there may be some breaks later in the evening for some light maintenance.

The Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel remains closed as crews continue to pump out water.

While Cuomo says crews are making progress, he did not give a date when the tunnel is expected to reopen.

Response and Relief


While the aftermath of Sandy takes its toll on residents across New York, it's also hitting the city and state's pocketbooks.

During a press conference Thursday, Governor Cuomo said the cost of damage and economic loss is hovering around $33 billion.

However, Cuomo says he is looking at FEMA to cover 100 percent of the cost.

He added the state will have to look at what we rebuild and how in order to make structures able to stand up to damage from potential future storms.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo announced that several state-chartered banks and mortgage services will provide loan relief, and many will not issue foreclosures or late fees for 90 days.

The agreeing companies include Apple Savings Bank, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg, Emigrant Savings Bank, M&T Bank, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Hanover Community Bank, Citi Mortgage, Homeward Residential, Ocwen Loan Servicing and Nationstar.

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.

FEMA is bringing in manufactured housing units for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

The mobile homes, approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be placed in some of the most heavily damaged areas in New York and New Jersey.

The units will not be the same ones that were used after Hurricane Katrina, which were found to have toxic levels of formaldehyde.

There is no word yet on when residents can start moving in.

In the meantime, all Disaster Recovery Centers are now up and running on Staten Island.

FEMA had temporarily suspended Mobile DRC operations Wednesday due to nor'easter concerns.

The centers are open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., seven days a week.

At the DRCs, FEMA offers housing assistance and answers to questions. You can also find out the status of any FEMA applications you may have submitted.

DRCs are set up at Miller Field on New Dorp Lane, Mount Loretto on Hylan Boulevard, Mount Manresa Jesuit House on Fingerboard Road, and at the corner of Father Capodanno and Hunter Avenue in Staten Island.

You can also register for assistance by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA.

With trash piling up around the city, Bloomberg has announced changes to garbage collection.

To make sure trash collection in heavily impacted areas takes place around the clock - collection in other areas could be scaled back.

In some areas, pickups could go from three days to two, or two days to one.

The Department of Environmental Protection says the city's water supply is largely safe to drink, and that extra chlorine has been added to the water. One exception is in Breezy Point, Queens, where city officials say tap water is not drinkable, even if boiled.

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.

Meanwhile, Cuomo issued this week a directive to insurance companies requiring them to accept photos as evidence of damage, so those making claims can toss their damaged property.

Insurance companies typically require an on-site inspection before claims are processed.

City Parks Closed, Zoos Open


The city is asking everyone to stay out of parks, playgrounds and off of city beaches Thursday due to heavy snow possibly causing more damage to trees.

Most are expected to re-open Friday.

However, visitors are now welcome to visit the animals in the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park and the Queens Zoos.

The New York Aquarium remains closed due to storm damage suffered during Sandy.

TWC Offers Auto-Credit For Affected Customers


NY1's parent company Time Warner Cable announced Thursday it will automatically credit the accounts of residential and business customers whose services were interrupted by Sandy.

The cable company says credits will be for residential customers’ TV, Internet and Home phone services, as well as any applicable equipment, and for business customers’ Business Class services in areas where the vast majority of customers experienced an extended outage.

The company says any fees or penalties for equipment -- including cable boxes and modems -- which were lost, damaged or destroyed as a result of the storm will also be waived.

Additionally, Time Warner Cable says it will suspend fees associated with installing, transferring or reconnecting service for customers who need to relocate temporarily because of the storm.

For more information, residential customers can call (212) 358-0900 or (718) 358-0900, and Business Class customers can call 1-877-227-8711.

The company has also set up a dedicated website at www.twc.com/hurricanesandy.

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