First Full Work Week In NE After Superstorm Sandy
MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A week after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of the East Coast, many are still struggling with no power, flooded homes, gas shortages and frigid temperatures.
Making matters worse, another storm is headed to the area.
Over the weekend U.S. military personnel began arriving on New York’s Staten Island.
The isolated city borough was hit hard by the storm, but residents said it is being overlooked by federal officials assessing damage of the ‘Superstorm’ that has killed more than 90 people in ten states.
Nineteen people on the Island lost their lives due to Sandy, including two young boys whose bodies were recovered from a marsh last Thursday.
Residents are sifting through the remains of their homes, searching for anything that can be salvaged. Much of the Island is still without power as well.
Early Monday morning military helicopters carrying more personnel and heavy lifting equipment along with surveying materials were seen flying over Manhattan on their way to the Island.
The Marines on board the helicopters are expected to help the residents in whatever matters they may need; everything from cleaning up neighborhoods littered with debris along with starting the rebuilding process which officials say could take years.
Meanwhile, residents in Hempstead, Long Island, are still with power, heat and hot water.
The town has opened 13 warming centers. It also is offering warm showers at an athletic center in West Hempstead.
Supervisor Kate Murray said Monday that workers have cleared more than 1,500 downed trees.
In New York City, workers who normally take the PATH train between Lower Manhattan and New Jersey are still out of luck. The PATH station at the World Trade Center was closed Monday, with iron fencing blocking the entrance.
A guard instructed people to catch a Hudson River ferry, a short walk away.
In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie called for “a new normal” to begin on the start of the first full work week since the superstorm knocked the state’s legs out from under it.
Electricity had been restored to about 2 million customers as of early Monday. New Jersey Transit buses were operating at 90 percent and gasoline was flowing at more and more stations that had powered back up.
But Sandy’s devastation also left the state with huge challenges ahead. Hundreds of thousands of residents were entering their sixth day without electricity, natural gas is still cut off to barrier islands, where roads remained choked with sand and impassible, PATH service remains suspended and at least 4,000 residents were being housed in shelters.
“We’re returning to a new normal,” Christie said Sunday. “One where power is coming back on, people can fuel up again in their cars, where kids can go back to school, roads are cleared and we’ll have clean water to drink.”
Christie urged schools to reopen Monday if it was safe to do so and residents to return to work, though it was difficult to assess how many would do so.
There were large crowds Monday as NJ Transit launched emergency bus service in northern New Jersey to shuttle passengers to ferries for service to New York City. Limited train service was also available.
“It’s an exciting and challenging day,” NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. said.
Louis Holmes, 27, of Bayonne was waiting to board a ferry at Exchange Place in Jersey City to the World Financial Center, where he works as a security guard.
The Freedom Tower, blazing with lights across the Hudson River in the breaking dawn, was a short ferry hop across once he made it through the lines of commuters.
“It is what it is,” Holmes said. “There’s not much we can do. We’ll get there whatever time we can — and our jobs have to understand — it’s better late than absent.”
Barbara Colucci, 51, of Bayonne, was waiting for a ferry to get to her job in midtown Manhattan.
“I can’t wait until the PATH and light rail are up and running again, but first I’d like power in my house, quite honestly,” she said.
Christie acknowledged that commuting challenges remained, and he and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who visited storm-damaged Monmouth and Hudson counties with Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno on Sunday, urged residents to use buses, carpool or stagger their work hours.
“Be smart. We’re in the throes of the back end of a crisis,” Christie said.
He emphasized that there was no gas shortage, and said now that power is back on at the refineries, more stations are receiving deliveries. Additionally, National Guard tankers have begun moving gas to stations in several counties where lines were longest.
Meanwhile, a small earthquake, with a magnitude of 2.0, struck at 1:19 a.m. Monday in Ringwood, a community that’s still dealing with downed trees and power outages from Sandy.
The quake was also felt in Mahwah, Wanaque, Oakland, Franklin Lakes, West Milford and Paterson.
There were no reports of damage.
The CBS Corporation, the parent company of CBS4 and CBSMiami.com, has contributed one million dollars to the American Red Cross for recovery and assistance. In addition, the CBS Corporation will match any contributions made by its employees to any Sandy related relief effort by make additional contributions to the American Red Cross.
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