NEW YORK — A week after super storm Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City and the surrounding area, schools reopened today and life was expected to slowly return to normal for many, but close to two million people still have no power as cold weather sets in.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters faced a frustrating journey into the city as public transportation remained spotty. Service on many rail lines was reduced and the subway was running at about 80 per cent of its normal service.
The challenges were more severe for tens of thousands of people unable to return to their homes and many more than that living without power or heat. A strong “Nor’easter” storm was forecast to bring freezing temperatures and more rain and wind by the middle of the week.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday 30,000 to 40,000 people in New York City were in need of shelter, including 20,000 in public housing.
Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean before turning north and slamming into the US Eastern Seaboard last Monday with 80 130-kph winds and a huge storm surge. The US death toll has risen to at least 113.
Most New York schools were due to reopen today, though some still lacked power and others were being used as shelters.
Concerns are also growing that voters displaced by Sandy won’t get to polling stations on Election Day tomorrow. Scores of voting centres were rendered useless by the record surge of seawater in New York and New Jersey.
New Jersey has said it will allow people displaced by the storm to vote by email. In New York City, some 143,000 voters will be reassigned to different polling sites. Both states are normally easy wins for the Democrats.
About 1.9 million homes and businesses remained in the dark as the pressure mounted on power providers to restore electricity to areas hit hardest by the storm.
In New York, utilities came under increasing pressure to restore heat and light to some 650,000 customers. More than half of those were served by the Long Island Power Authority, which was singled out for criticism by Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Reuters)