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Five days after Sandy struck New York City, mass transit continued to be restored Friday and thousands of residents got their power turned back on – but thousands more remain in the dark as authorities continued to grapple with the devastation from the deadly storm.
Approximately 100,000 Con Ed customers in mid- and lower Manhattan had their power retored 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.
However more than 250,000 customers across the five boroughs were still without power as of Friday night, and Con Ed officials said it could take until next weekend or even longer to complete all the necessary repairs.
Meanwhile Friday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority expanded its subway and commuter rail service, including service on the Staten Island Ferry. The first ferry left from the St. George terminal, followed by half-hourly service in both directions.
View a list of restored transit service.
After being waived for the last two days, regular fares go back into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
In an effort to reduce resulting traffic congestion, High Occupancy Vehicle restrictions were again in place Friday through 5 p.m. on all four East River bridges and major roadways.
The order, which went into effect Thursday, required vehicles traveling into Manhattan to have at least three occupants between the hours of 6 a.m. and midnight, causing significant tie-ups during the morning commute.
City schools remained closed to students Friday, though teachers and administrators reported to work at 10 a.m. to prepare for the re-opening of the schools on Monday.
The Department of Sanitation is making scheduled garbage collections as storm conditions permit, although recycling collections remain suspended.
Power Outage Update
On a Friday night conference call, John Miksad, Con Ed's senior vice president of electric operations, said the company had begun restoring power to affected areas of Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
According to Miksad, Con Ed restored power Friday afternoon to four of its networks, which serve approximately 120,000 customers.
Miksad said Manhattan's six off-line networks, which serve about 140,000 customers, were expected to all be restored by Saturday.
Those served by underground lines in Brooklyn are also expected to be back online sometime Saturday.
Miksad said that customers with flooded basements or damaged electrical equipment will not have power until the necessary repairs are made by business owners.
Con Ed representative Alfonso Quiroz said Friday afternoon that the company had restored power to Cooper Square network, which powers the East Village and the Lower East Side.
Con Edison representative Alfonso Quiroz gave NY1 an update on the company's power restoration efforts as of Friday afternoon.
According to Quiroz, that boundaries of that network are south of 14th Street, north of Canal Street, east of Broadway and west of the East River.
Miksad said that Con Ed has been joined by 2,400 workers from around the country to assist in their efforts, with more due to arrive.
"This has been the most massive restoration effort we have ever undertaken here at Con Edison, and we're gonna continue working 24/7 until the last customer is back," Miksad said. "Although we have made great progress, we have a huge, huge task in front of us."
During a briefing Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he knows Con Ed workers are doing the best they can with long shifts but that more needs to be done.
"I want accountability and I want performance," Cuomo said. "People pay their bills so they have power. They are now without power. We understand the situation, but we now expect utilities to perform adequately in this situation. I will hold them accountable for their performance."
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 without power, most of which are located in the city's low-lying Zone A.
Con Ed officials continue to request that residents avoid downed power lines in their area.
To report a power outage, call 1-800-75-ConEd or log on to coned.com.
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.
Update: If you or someone you know is need of food, water or other emergency assistance, please call 311. Visit nyc.gov for a list of NYC food and water distribution locations.
In addition to long waits at the city's crossings, many drivers are struggling to find gas stations across the city. Additionally, those who are able to find stations with a supply are having to wait on long lines.
According to AAA, the short gas supply is the result of tankers and barges not being allowed into the Port of New York over debris concerns. However, Sen. Charles Schumer on Thursday announced the port has reopened, meaning fuel ships will now be able to make the much needed deliveries.
"I would hope within a day or two, because once these tankers get through into the harbor, it's a quick root for the trucks even with all the traffic to get to the gas stations and fill them up so that should help and help quickly," Schumer said.
AAA notes that while supplies are restored, many gas stations in the hardest hit areas remain without power.
Rescue & Recovery
As of early Friday morning, city officials have confirmed at least 41 deaths caused by Sandy.
Bloomberg said the storm caused 23 serious fires, including one in Breezy Point that destroyed between 80 and 100 houses.
First responders are still carrying out search and rescue missions in some of the areas of the city hardest hit by the storm surge.
Of the 41 deaths confirmed by police through Friday morning, details were released about 21 deaths in Staten Island, 10 deaths in Queens, eight deaths in Brooklyn and two deaths in Manhattan.
At least 21 people are reported dead on Staten Island, including 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.
Bloomberg says the city's 76 shelters are being consolidated down to 15.
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.
Meantime, looting has become an issue in parts of the city.
Police say 15 people in Queens are accused of ransacking various businesses in the Rockaways.
The Queens District Attorney says they face several charges, including burglary and possession of stolen property, for allegedly breaking into clothing stores, gas stations and a Radio Shack.
Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, police say more than a dozen people were arrested in Coney Island alone for looting.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is calling for increased National Guard presence. He says first responders, including the FDNY and NYPD, are overwhelmed. But Mayor Bloomberg denied the need for greater presence.
"We appreciate the help," Bloomberg said. "The National Guard has been helpful, but the NYPD is the only people we want on the streets with guns, and we don't need it. There's been one or two minor outbreakings, disgraceful though they may be, of looting reported in the paper, but the vast bulk of people are doing the right thing."
The mayor adds that there are police forces across New York State that need the help of the National Guard more than the city does.
Health & 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 Thursday afternoon, the last of the roughly 700 patients at Bellevue who needed to be evacuated were waiting for transfer to other facilities.
HHC officials say the flooding damage to Bellevue is significant and it could take up to two to three weeks to reopen.
Among the storm's effects, Bloomberg said that the backup power at NYU Langone Medical center had failed and that 215 patients were successfully moved to nearby facilities late Monday.
In a Wednesday statement, NYU Langone Medical officials said it was too early to tell when they could offer in-patient services but off-site medical offices are expected to open on Monday.
Officials said that Coney Island Hospital had no power as of 1:30 a.m. Tuesday but was not evacuating because critical patients were moved out before the storm.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared a public health emergency Wednesday for New York in the aftermath of Sandy.
The HHS says that nine disaster medical assistance teams, a team of U.S. Public Health Service officers and caches of medical supplies are beginning to provide care in shelters in the New York City area Wednesday. Additional teams and federal medical stations are en route to New York at the state’s request to support medical needs in New York City, according to the HHS.
The Department of Environmental Protection says the city's water supply is safe to drink, and that extra chlorine has been added to the water.
Update: One exception is in Breezy Point, 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.
Aid & Relief
Governor Cuomo on Friday 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.
On Wednesday, Cuomo announced the National Guard, along with FEMA, will also deliver 1 million meals and 1 million bottles of water to New Yorkers in areas affected by the storm.
Deliveries have already begun in parts of Lower Manhattan, affected areas in Brooklyn and Queens, including the Rockaways.
Meantime, the state is launching an emergency assistance hotline to help people and businesses hit hard by the storm to start rebuilding.
The number is 855-NYS-SAND(Y) or 855-697-7263, and goes live at 8 a.m. Friday.
Governor Cuomo says he hopes the hotline will help people avoid bureaucracy.
"You will get an expert on the phone, you can explain your situation, they can point you in the right direction and start you on the road to applying for the proper funds," Cuomo said.
As for federal help for New York, Governor Cuomo says local governments can expect to be reimbursed for 90 to 100 percent of their clean up costs.
Usually FEMA only covers 75 percent.
Cuomo says going forward, changes need to be made to the state's contingency plans for coastal flooding to protect New York in the event of another storm of Sandy's size.
Cuomo estimates the private sector will suffer billions of dollars in losses because of businesses staying closed, and people unable to get to work.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster exists in New York, making federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens. Cuomo, meanwhile, requested the maximum percentage of federal aid to repair the damage from the storm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security will help oversee recovery operations in affected areas.
FEMA says residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
City residents who left their pets behind during the storm now have a 24-hour hotline they can call for help. That number is 1-347-573-1561.
The hotline connects the public to the NYC Animal Planning Task Force, which includes representatives from the ASPCA, the Mayor's Alliance for Animals and several other agencies.
The agencies have committed resources that include animal sheltering, veterinary support, and search and rescue.
Displaced residents are allowed to bring pets into city evacuation shelters.
Libraries, Parks & Recreation
Mayor Bloomberg said a majority of the city's parks and playgrounds will reopen this weekend.
Central Park will welcome visitors back starting Saturday at 8 a.m.
As far as the city's zoos, the Wildlife Conservation Society says the Prospect Park Zoo reopened Thursday, the Queens Zoo will reopen Friday, and the Bronx Zoo will reopen 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. Seven of its branches will reopen on Friday: Tottenville, St. George, Todt Hill-Westerleigh and Richmondtown in Staten Island, the Roosevelt Island branch in Manhattan and the Morris Park and Riverdale branches in the Bronx.
To find out if a particular branch is open, visit nypl.org.
Most Brooklyn Public Library locations will be open Thursday, but the following branches will not be open this week: Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Flatlands, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Jamaica Bay, Kensington, McKinley Park and Sheepshead Bay.
Most Queens Library branches, including the Flushing and Central Library branches, will be open Thursday.
Several Queens Library branches are expected to open shortly: Douglaston/Little Neck, Far Rockaway, Far Rockaway Teen Center, Hollis, Howard Beach, Middle Village and Rochdale.
However, four Queens Library branches - Arverne, Broad Channel, Peninsula and Seaside - are closed indefinitely due to storm damages.
Carnegie Hall has rescheduled or relocated a lot of its concerts originally scheduled from Friday through Monday. Details and refund policies are available at www.carnegiehall.org.
Also, the National Basketball Association announced Thursday that the game between the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center that would have been held on Thursday night will be held on Monday, November 26 at 7 p.m.
The following is a list of food distribution centers being set up by The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services. They will be open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
• 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
• Coney Island: Surf Island Playground – West 25th Street & Surf Avenue
• Red Hook: Coffey Park – 85 Richards Street
• 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
• Parking Lot – corner of Mill Road & New Dorp Lane
• Empty Lot – corner of Yetman and Ylon Boulevard