Bloomberg: Sandy Death Toll Rises; Schools Reopening Monday
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The full effects of Superstorm Sandy continue to emerge.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Sandy has been blamed for at least 37 deaths in New York City. On Thursday, the bodies of two missing Staten Island boys who were swept away in the storm surge were found.
The city is recovering three days after the hybrid storm system struck the area.
“New York’s recovery is under way, New York is starting to build again,” Bloomberg said. “This city is a city where we have to go on.”
“New York is a very strong resilient state,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. “We want to help get things back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Sen. Charles Schumer said FEMA will reimburse New York City and the state 100 percent for the cost of emergency transportation and cover the cost to restore power to the region between Oct. 30 and Nov. 9.
“This was not a New York disaster, a New Jersey disaster, or a Connecticut disaster, it’s a national disaster,” Schumer said, calling the storm one of the greatest natural disasters ever to hit New York and one of the five greatest to hit the country.
New York City public schools will reopen on Monday after a week-long closure.
First responders continue to carry out life-saving missions and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard will be distributing food and water in hard-hit neighborhoods of New York City.
Limited subway service was restored as the area struggles to get back to normal. There is no subway service south of 34th Street between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
East River ferry service resumed on a modified schedule Thursday; Staten Island Ferry should be fully-operational by Saturday, Bloomberg said.
Commuters who took to the roads were met with hours-long delays in Manhattan at East River bridges after police set up HOV checkpoints. A minimum passenger mandate implemented to ease gridlock in Manhattan took effect Thursday morning.
The three major airports serving the New York City area have reopened.
Safety has been a concern as power remains out for hundreds of thousands in the area.
At one point, Con Ed was reporting about 900,000 outages in New York City and Westchester County. The utility was hoping to restore the vast majority of service by next weekend.
“The task of restoring power is going to take a lot of time but the good news is they’re working aggressively,” Bloomberg said.
Police recruits will be out during the morning and evening rush hours directing traffic at intersections where traffic signals are not operating.
The NYPD is taking steps to deter crime and protect residents in blackout zones.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said about 18 people were arrested Wednesday for breaking into a Key Food on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island and on Staten Island two people were arrested in an alleged burglary.
“We have a large number of police officers deployed, we have light towers that are deployed, you can see the radio cars patrolling with their light on, we have a significant number of officers working 12-hour tours — certainly we’re focused on the blackout areas but other areas as well,” Kelly said. “Officers are doing an excellent job in covering a whole host of issues.”
Meanwhile, to ease the crisis that has emerged with the gas shortage, Schumer said the Coast Guard has been clearing the port to allow 200 fuel barges to move through the harbor.
“The harbor is open for ships to pass through and that will mean that our gasoline crisis should end shortly,” Schumer said.
On Thursday Mayor Bloomberg responded to criticism over his decision to proceed with the New York Marathon on Sunday.
Bloomberg noted that electricity is expected to be back on in downtown Manhattan by Sunday, freeing up an “enormous number of police.”
He said that sanitation workers and fire fighters who are aiding storm victims are not involved in the marathon. Race organizers have said they’ll use more private contractors than in past years to minimize the strain on city services.
Bloomberg said “this city is a city where we have to go on.”
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