Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Director of Housing Recovery Operations Brad Gair announced Friday a new program designed to fix homes damaged by Sandy.
The program, called NYC Rapid Repairs, is a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Residents who want to seek relief through the program must have a FEMA ID number, which will be given to people regardless of how much damage they have or their insurance and mortgage status. They can register for one at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.
Several restoration centers to assist with the program will be set up throughout the city. Those locations can be found at nyc.gov or by calling 311.
As part of the program, according to Bloomberg, contractors will be assigned to different parts of the city hit hardest by Sandy. Those contractors will then hire subcontractors, who will repair the homes.
The contractors will work with the city Department of Buildings over the weekend to determine which homes can be part of the first wave of the program.
According to Bloomberg, homes that will be included in the first wave are ones that have a green placard on them (meaning they are structurally sound) and are on a street with electricity.
Bloomberg said this is because they want to get quicker projects done first. Homes with red and yellow placards will still be able to apply for assistance under the plan.
Earlier Friday, on his weekly radio show, the mayor had a grim assessment of Sandy's damage.
The mayor estimated about 1,000 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.
Gas Rationing Begins
Only certain drivers are able to fill up at city gas stations as a rationing effort to ease the gas crunch is now in place.
Passenger vehicles with license plates ending in an even number or a zero will only be able to fill up on even number days.
Those ending in an odd number, a letter or other character are only able to fill up at the pump on odd number days.
The rationing 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 is also in place Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the order Thursday, 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.
The line at one gas station in the Bronx was about 20 minutes long Friday, far shorter than the hours-long wait some drivers have been reporting.
Drivers there said the plan is working.
"It's better because the line is shorter and got everybody give them a chance to get gas the next day," said one driver. "'Cause if everybody come on one day, everybody is not going to get gas."
"I think it's going to cut the lines a lot and it will probably save me a lot of time today," said another.
Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst from GasBuddy.com, 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 gasbuddy.com/sandy 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.
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo and the MTA announced several planned subway restorations to areas hit hardest by the storm.
N train service is now restored between Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue and Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn, restoring full service along that line.
In addition, A train service will be restored to Howard Beach, with a shuttle bus taking riders from there to Mott Avenue in the Rockaways, starting Sunday. According to the governor's office, the bus shuttle will remain in place until the heavily damaged North Channel Bridge and subway infrastructure through Broad Channel is replaced.
The L train began running into Manhattan Thursday when service under the East River was finally restored.
L trains will likely be more crowded as they're running every 10 minutes instead of every three.
Continued lingering transit gaps include 1 trains south of Chambers Street.
For the latest transit updates, visit mta.info.
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 NJTransit.com
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 coned.com
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.
The New York City Housing Authority said Friday that power was restored to approximately 2,500 additional residents of 18 buildings in the Ocean Bay Apartments(Bayside), the Ocean Bay Apartments (Oceanside) and the Hammel developments.
NYCHA says that power is now restored to 87 percent of buildings in developments who lost power during Sandy.
In addition, NYCHA says heat was restored to a development in Coney Island that houses approximately 500 residents.
53 buildings in nine NYCHA developments in Red Hook, Gowanus, Coney Island and the Rockaways remain without power, and 113 buildings throughout 16 developments in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens remain without heat.
NYCHA says it is bringing temporary boilers to developments without heat and expects them to come online next week. They have also established warming centers.
Since Hurricane Sandy hit, residents of Knickerbocker Village apartments in Manhattan have been making due without power, heat or hot water.
Residents there say that Con Ed hasn't been able to restore power to the two-building complex because there was significant flooding and damage to electrical panels.
They say that pumping the water out is taking too long.
"There are thousands of us here without heat, power, hot water, telephone line, Internet service and management is simply not giving us an answer," said one resident.
"It's been horrible," said another. "There is no lights, no heat, no hot water. The exits smell because people are using them as bathrooms. They're throwing their garbage in there."
Management released a letter to residents saying that power had been restored to several apartments on Tuesday.
They say they are working with city, state, and federal officials to help speed the restoration of services.
Response and Relief
Governor Cuomo said during a Friday press conference that 154,000 people in New York State have requested federal aid in the aftermath of Sandy.
According to Cuomo, 88,000 of those people are New York City residents.
Cuomo announced in his Friday press conference a charity called the Empire State Relief Fund that will raise money for housing solutions in affected areas of the entire metropolitan region.
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 they rebuild and how in order to make structures able to stand up to damage from potential future storms.
Ambulances were deployed Friday to Far Rockaway and Coney Island, with teams consisting of a paramedic and member of the National Guard, who will be going door to door offering assistance.
Mayor Bloomberg said teams will focus on residents who haven't been able to leave their apartments and who may be without water, electricity and heat.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama wants to take a first hand look at recovery efforts in the fire boroughs.
The White House says the president is planning a trip to the city on Thursday.
Obama visited New Jersey last week to tour the devastation there, but city officials asked him and his security detail to steer clear of the city as they worked to restore power to Manhattan, restore transit and clean up costal devastation.
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.