Gasoline rationing expanded to New York City and Long Island as the region coped with a nor’easter that slowed the recovery from superstorm Sandy.
The city and Nassau and Suffolk counties will join New Jersey in implementing an odd-even system for fueling based on license plate numbers, beginning tomorrow. To aid commuters who use northern New Jersey train lines that remain out of service, the state will offer free shuttle buses to the Weehawken Ferry Terminal for trips to Manhattan, Governor Chris Christie said.
“Drivers are still facing long lines, frustrations are growing and it now appears that there will be shortages for the next couple of weeks,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a City Hall briefing. “The best way to cut down the lines and help customers get gas faster, to help gas stations stay open longer and to reduce the potential for disorder is to alternate the days that drivers can purchase gas.”
The Queens-Midtown Tunnel will reopen to regular commuter traffic tomorrow morning for the first time since Sandy struck, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. And New York City’s L subway line running along Manhattan’s 14th Street into Brooklyn opened for the first time since Sandy flooded it, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
The nor’easter hit the region nine days after Sandy slammed into the East Coast and triggered an almost 14-foot tidal surge. The superstorm displaced thousands of residents, crippled mass transit, knocked out power to more than 8.5 million customers in 21 states and killed more than 100, including 42 in New York City.
“I know how hard it is for these families that are struggling,” Cuomo said today at a news briefing in Manhattan. “I’ve been out there every day. It has been long. It has been hard.”
More than 92,000 homes and businesses lost power in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut yesterday, the U.S. Energy Department said. Newark Liberty International Airport measured 6.2 inches (15.7 centimeters); Ridgefield, Connecticut, 8 inches; and Manhattan 4.7 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said. Crews resumed repairs after high winds abated, said Consolidated Edison Inc., the New York utility.
Cuomo said damage and economic losses to New York state may total $33 billion, which he called a “staggering number.” The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, formerly the Brooklyn-Battery, remains the only major crossing that remains shut.
Today, most schools remained open even as New Jersey and New York City struggled to return to normal. Christie said he was relieved that coastal areas devastated by the Oct. 29 storm escaped severe damage yesterday.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Christie told reporters today at a news briefing in Somerset.
Some relief from the inclement weather may be on the way. The National Weather Service forecast for Manhattan tomorrow called for sunny skies and temperatures reaching 53 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius), with temperatures climbing to the 60s this weekend.
United Continental Holdings Inc., American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. said service would resume later today after suspending some or most operations yesterday. Cancellations approached 2,200 from yesterday’s weather, adding to 20,000 scrubbed earlier because of Sandy, according to researcher FlightAware.com.
The New York area’s airports led canceled arrivals and departures yesterday, with 589 at Newark Liberty, 421 at LaGuardia and 228 at John F. Kennedy, according to FlightStats.com’s website. More than 200 flights at Philadelphia were scrubbed.
About 317,000 storm victims have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has paid out $320 million, mostly in housing assistance, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told reporters on a conference call today.
The agency has begun transporting about 100 manufactured-housing units for those with severely damaged homes in the region’s suburban and less densely populated areas and is preparing to deliver more depending on demand, Fugate said.
More than 715,000 homes and businesses in six states from Rhode Island to West Virginia had no power as of 9 a.m. local time today, according the Energy Department. That compared with 651,000 yesterday morning. That total includes 397,000 in New Jersey and 285,000 in New York, the department said.
Con Ed, which serves New York City and suburban Westchester County, reported yesterday’s nor’easter knocked out electricity to about 55,000 customers. About 30,000 more customers, mostly in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, live in buildings with electrical equipment damaged by floods that can’t be restored safely without an electrician, the utility said.
Con Ed planned to get almost all of its customers back online by the end of the weekend, John Miksad, senior vice president of electric operations at Con Edison, said yesterday in a call with media. Those who had lost power from Sandy would be at the top of the priority list, he said.
In the hard-hit Rockaways section of New York’s borough of Queens, more than 600 patients as well as workers had been evacuated the evening before the nor’easter hit from three city nursing homes and a health-care center in the affected areas, Bloomberg said. The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.