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Influx Of Volunteers Aids Areas Hit Hard By Sandy

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TWC News: Influx Of Volunteers Heads To Areas Hit Hard By Sandy
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Volunteers are crossing state lines to help clean up neighborhoods that took a beating from Hurricane Sandy.

At a firefighter's home on Beach 135th Street and Cronston Avenue in Belle Harbor, volunteers from the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" are helping to gut the severely damaged residence, pulling up waterlogged floor boards and hauling out debris.

"We're sorry that we have to be out here, that this disaster occurred, but we're glad to help people that have the need," said one volunteer.

"It's really easy for us to come down and give back to guys that are serving all the time," said another.

The church says thousands of volunteers from congregations around the country are helping in the relief effort.

Crews from New Jersey went to work Saturday cleaning up the Brooklyn Behavioral Health and Community Rehab Center in Coney Island.

They say they're more than willing to do their part.

"All this out here, you see this, this was all dirt," said one volunteer. We shoveled out of this. You can see the piles right there. Basically, we got 90 people working in this building."

The crews were brought in by charter buses. Workers tell NY1 they'll be back next week to help clean up other areas of the neighborhood.

Dozens of workers from the Bay Parkway Community Job Center gathered in the area to help clean up homes and small businesses.

The job center was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

Local lawmakers say the laborers came out to show they're committed to rebuilding their job center and rebuilding the neighborhood.

"As an immigrant, I can tell you that I started, as many of these people here, as a day laborer," said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny. "So I know it's very hard and I know it's even harder to come as a volunteer and give your day when your family needs your help from any kind of job. So I'm so so grateful to people whom we have here."

The job center is managed by the Workers Justice Project, which advocates change that advances economic, racial, and workplace justice.

Response and Relief

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is extending a program providing temporary housing to New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

The program, which offers hotel or motel rooms to FEMA applicants whose homes were damaged by the storm, is being extended to December 14.

It began November 3 and was originally scheduled to require checkouts Saturday.

For more information, call 1-866-863-8673.

Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Residents can also register for FEMA assistance online at or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

Senator Charles Schumer said he's counting on FEMA to house New Yorkers who have been displaced as the temperatures continue to drop, but he said there have been some issues in getting temporary mobile housing units in place.

"FEMA has trailers," he said. "The trouble is, many of the trailers they have are from the South and they're not heated. So getting a whole lot of trailers quickly is one of the biggest orders that we've given FEMA to try and do."

The mayor's office says about 4,000 people have signed up for the city's "Rapid Repairs" program and the first inspection teams have gone out.

The program assigns contractors to areas hit hard by the storm.

Those contractors are then responsible for bringing in electricians, plumbers and other subcontractors.

Homes with green stickers from the Department of Buildings, meaning the house is structurally sound, get priority.

To take part in the program, residents must have a FEMA ID number.

To get one, go to one of the city's restoration centers -- or go online to or call 1-800-621-3362.

Meanwhile, one of the city's new restoration centers is already closing its doors.

The city says the center located at Our Lady of Solace in Coney Island only agreed to host the center for a brief time.

A new location is being sought.

In the meantime, the city says people relying on that location can still head over to the one in Gravesend.

There are also sites open on Staten Island and in Far Rockaway.

Mayor Bloomberg has promised another three centers as well.

The city says it hopes to open locations in the Bronx and mid-Rockaway Monday.

The centers are meant to be a one-stop shop of disaster relief for those hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.

Residents Wait Patiently For Heat, Hot Water To Return

Thousands of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents remain without heat or hot water, though the housing authority says it continues to restore heat and hot water to its development.

The housing authority said Saturday that it has restored heat and hot water to 96 percent of buildings impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Heat and hot water were restored Friday to approximately 541 residents of one building at the Carey Gardens development in Brooklyn, according to NYCHA.

On Friday, NYCHA said that heat and hot water were restored to 57 buildings Thursday night. The buildings were in the Red Hook East, Red Hook West, Coney Island (Site 8), Haber, Carey Gardens, Surfside Gardens, Carleton Manor, Hammel and Ocean Bay Apartments (Bayside) developments.

According to NYCHA, there are still 15 buildings in the Carey Gardens, O'Dwyer Gardens, Surfside Gardens and Coney Island developments without heat or hot water.

Residents at the O'Dwyer Gardens housing complex who spoke to NY1 residents said they are trying to be patient.

"They said they were going to turn off our power for another two hours additionally so they could fix it and down in the boiler room, 'cause we're still having problems with the boiler," said one resident. "We're actually not getting heat right now. So they said it would be off for two hours and they'd turn it back on."

City Councilman Domenic Recchia said once the equipment is tested, the boiler will be fired up and the heat should follow.

Nearly all city housing residents who have been without power since the storm hit are back on the grid.

Earlier this week, the city announced the remaining 402 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties without power had their electricity restored, but some residents are still dealing with spotty electrical service.

The housing authority said this is because there's a delay between power restoration and its actual return due to damaged circuits.

They say in some cases, walls need to be demolished before everything can be fixed, slowing down the work.

They say while that work is ongoing, power will be intermittent.

Traffic & Transit Latest

NY1 was given an exclusive look at the damage Hurricane Sandy caused to the South Ferry subway station in Lower Manhattan.

The storm pushed millions of gallons of water into the final stop on the number 1 line.

The MTA said the platforms and tracks were underwater for a full week afterward.

Electronics and motors were destroyed, along with elevators and escalators, and the dispatcher's office suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Crews have been pushed to the limit working to repair the station, while running the rest of the system at the same time.

The MTA says it'll take months and millions of dollars to get the station up and running again.

It says a major problem is that the elevators and escalators take a long time to fix, and federal law prohibits reopening the station until the elevators are working.

Southbound 1 trains currently terminate at Rector Street.

R train service in Lower Manhattan also remains suspended.

The MTA says repairs on the tunnel connecting the R line with Brooklyn could take weeks.

There's also no word on when J and Z service south of Chambers Street will be restored.

In Queens, the MTA says it will take months to rebuild the bridge connecting the A train from Howard Beach to the Rockaways.

For now, a shuttle bus is transporting commuters from Mott Avenue to the Howard Beach stop.

Meanwhile, there's some good news for Rockaways residents commuting to Manhattan using the city's new ferry service.

Starting Thursday, ferry riders can park for free at a lot across from the landing on Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive.

The ferry service launched on Monday as crews work to bring the A Train back to the peninsula.

It runs during morning rush hours to Pier 11 near Wall Street with return service available in the evening.

A one-way ticket costs $2 and includes a free transfer to the East 34th Street Pier.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo's office said Friday that both tubes of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel will open to traffic in both directions Monday morning at 6 a.m.

Trucks will continue to be banned until further notice.

In addition, the Queens Midtown Tunnel is now open to all traffic.

The tunnel, which flooded following Hurricane Sandy, opened to trucks Friday morning. It was previously opened to buses on November 6 and cars on November 9.

It took five days to pump out the water from the tunnel's twin tubes.

Riders who take PATH trains into the Hoboken station will have to wait a bit longer to use the stop as crews work to repair damages suffered during Sandy.

New video from the Port Authority shows water rushing into the station at the height of the storm.

The Port Authority says the flood waters damaged signaling, train control and other equipment.

The agency says engineers and contractors are working round-the-clock to get the station open, but do not have a prediction on when that will be.

Alternate-Side Parking Suspended In Certain Neighborhoods

Alternate-side parking resumed in most parts of the city on Wednesday, but the city Departments of Transportation and Sanitation say it is suspended indefinitely in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

On Thursday, DOT officials announced that alternate-side parking regulations are reinstated immediately in parts of Brooklyn Community Board 6 east of Hamilton Avenue, which includes the neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Park Slope, Gowanus and Cobble Hill.

DOT officials said Thursday that alternate-side parking regulations remain suspended indefinitely in areas of Brooklyn Community Board 6 west of and including Hamilton Avenue, which includes the neighborhood of Red Hook.

Other areas where alternate-side parking remains suspended include Brooklyn Community Board 18, which covers Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Flatlands, Marine Park, Georgetown and Mill Island; Brooklyn Community Board 13, which represents Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Sea Gate; Brooklyn Community Board 15, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach and Homecrest; and Queens Community Board 14, which covers the Rockaways.

Staten Island does not normally have alternate-side parking.

Mayor To Decide On Whether To Extend Gas Rationing In Next Few Days

Mayor Bloomberg says he'll decide over the next couple of days whether to extend the city's gas rationing through Thanksgiving.

His current executive order expires Sunday.

On his radio show Friday morning, the mayor said odd-even rationing has helped shorten lines at the pumps, so he might sign an order for an additional five days.

He also talked about the possibility of requiring gas stations to have backup generators.

"They have to have a generator and test it once a month or something like that," he said. "That would be a reasonable thing to do. It makes it more expensive. I think we should look at that. It's not something that should be dismissed."

The hurricane shut down gas stations throughout New York, New Jersey and Long Island.

The website Gas Buddy shows most of the stations in the city are now open. The mayor says it's about 70 percent.

On Long Island, the situation has improved enough that Friday is the final day for the rationing system.

Nassau and Suffolk counties lifted the odd/even restrictions at midnight Saturday.

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