Friday, April 18, 2014

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Gas Rations In Effect As Remaining Transit Bumps Clear

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Only certain drivers will be able to fill up at city gas stations today as the rationing effort to ease the gas crunch shifts into gear.

Starting at 6 a.m. today 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 Michael Bloomberg signed the order yesterday, almost a week after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie put a similar system in effect there.

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

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

As a result, experts say the gas shortage could last several weeks.

Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst from, says many fuel terminals were damaged in the storm and are still offline.

"Some of them have been inundated with flood waters and obviously that's something that takes time to resolve," said DeHaan. "Until all the terminals get back up to speed, you're going to have gas stations hoarding gasoline from what terminals are available, kind of putting a lot of stress on the system because there aren't as many terminals open, so there are fewer options for where to get your gasoline from."

The website directs users to stations where gas is available.

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.

Rail and Road Latest

If you do have gas, you can now drive through the Queens-Midtown tunnel.

The tunnel reopened Friday morning to private vehicles, with the exception of transport trucks.

They're banned until further notice.

There is some maintenance work that still needs to be done so the tunnel may be closed in the evenings.

Drivers who spoke with NY1 say they are just happy to use it again.

"Much better, because we had to go to the Queensboro Bridge, you know, and it was just terrible. Too much traffic over there. Trucks," said one driver.

"It's open, it's a good thing. It's the best," said another driver.

The tunnel reopened to buses only earlier this week.

The Hugh L. Carey-Brooklyn Battery tunnel is now the only tunnel that remains closed.

Governor Cuomo was not able to give a date when that tunnel will reopen.

Meantime, straphangers in Brooklyn are having an easier ride now that the L train is running into Manhattan.

Trains were only running within Brooklyn until Thursday afternoon when service under the East River was finally restored.

Those who spoke with NY1 were pleased with the service.

"This is definitely the most direct route, so I'm happy it's back," said one Brooklyn commuter.

L trains will likely be more crowded as they're running every 10 minutes instead of every three.

The R train is now the only line not running under the East River.

Other lingering transit gaps include A train service into the Rockaways and S shuttle, the N by Coney Island and 1 trains south of Chambers Street.

For the latest transit updates, visit

Commuters who are having a hard time getting to the city from New Jersey can now take advantage of some free ferries.

They run from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to Battery Park and from Weehawken to Pier 79 at West 39th Street in Midtown.

To get to the ferry terminals commuters can hop on one of several free shuttle buses at points across northern New Jersey.

The service will run weekdays between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. inbound and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. outbound.

For a full list of shuttle bus locations visit

Power Outage Update

More than a week after the storm, tens of thousands of New Yorkers remain without power.

In some cases, crews have not yet been able to get the power back on, but in other places the homes are too badly damaged to safely turn the power back on.

Consolidated Edison says the bulk of its remaining repair work is in Queens.

The utility says it expects most remaining outages will be restored by this weekend.

However, there are an additional 30,000 without power who will not be getting it.

Con Ed says the customers need to first fix their electrical systems before power can be brought back.

The utility says this week's nor'easter did not significantly slow down its restoration efforts.

To report an outage or downed wires, call 1-800-75-CON ED or by going online to

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

LIPA says 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 in the Rockaways.

Response and Relief

Mayor Bloomberg on Friday had a grim assessment of Sandy's damage but also offered some hope to those still waiting for heat and power.

On his weekly radio show, the mayor estimated about a thousand one and two family houses were destroyed by the storm.

He says between 70,000 and 80,000 suffered water damage.

He says heat and electricity are handled by equipment which may have been damaged by salt water, and that can be a very dangerous situation.

"So if the utility company puts power in the street, you still can't turn it on until you go to every single house and either fix their panel, ascertain they didn't have water damage, or if you can't get into the house, disconnect the line to the house. Because otherwise you can't turn on anybody in that block," Bloomberg noted.

For homeowners without electricity or heat, Bloomberg says FEMA will pay about $30,000 if their insurance does not cover damage or they cannot get a loan or a mortgage.

For those living in public housing, Mayor Bloomberg says all buildings except for maybe one or two should have electricity by Friday night or Saturday and heat by early next week.

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. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP