NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Saturday urged everyone who might need shelter to seek it out as the temperature drops, and slammed the Long Island Power Authority for not attending more promptly to outages in the Rockaways.
He also said the crane dangling over 57th Street since Superstorm Sandy has been secured, and reaffirmed that schools will be back open on Monday.
1010 WINS reporter Gary Baumgarten spoke with New Yorkers who were trying to keep warm…
Bloomberg said with the temperature dropping, some areas – including the Rockaways in Queens – have no power, and even those who have generators are now having a hard time getting fuel.
The city has opened warming centers, and has been urging people – residents of public housing developments that are in the dark in particular – to go to shelters. Many did not want to go, but with the lows dropping into the 30s overnight every day in the coming week, it is critical that people stay warm, Bloomberg said.
“I know sometimes people are reticent to take advantage of services,” he said. “The cold reality is something that is dangerous.”
Buses have been set up to help people get to shelters. Pickup locations have been set up at Mount Loreto, at 6581 Hylan Blvd. in Staten Island; at Miller Field, 600 New Dorp Lanein Staten Island, at 112-15 Beach Channel Dr. in Far Rockaway, Queens; at Fort Tilden, on Beach Channel Boulevard in Breezy Pointy, Queens, and at the parking lot of MCU Park, at 1904 Surf Ave. in Coney Island, Brooklyn, Bloomberg said.
The total number of deaths caused by the storm has risen to “41 or 42,” Bloomberg said. Police had previously said 43, but the New York City Medical Examiner’s office has since concluded that one of the deaths was not attributable to the storm.
A total of 194,000 New York City customers remained without heat, compared with 460,000 at the height of Superstorm Sandy, Bloomberg said. But more than 25,000 customers in the Rockaways remained without power as of Saturday, and while most of the city gets its power from Con Edison, the Rockaways get power from the Long Island Power Authority.
Bloomberg blasted LIPA for failing to attend to the power crisis in the Rocakways in a more timely fashion.
“The Rockaways were hardest hit by the storm, and when it comes to prioritizing, we think that they should be first in line,” Bloomberg said, adding that LIPA not attending first to the Rockaways is “unacceptable.”
Bloomberg also urged those without power not to use candles or gas stoves for heat. An 80-year-old Staten Island man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation Friday night following a fire caused by candles, he said.
Meanwhile, subway service is improving by the day. Bloomberg said 80 percent of subway service was back as of Saturday, and that figure is soon expected to increase to 90 percent.
But the Montague Tunnel, which carries the N and R trains, and the 14th Street tunnel, which carries the L line, remained flooded Saturday, Bloomberg said.
New York Public Schools are set to resume on Monday, and the city’s Department of Education planned to call out a reserve of substitute teachers to ensure all classes are covered. He said some students might have to attend a different school, since many schools remained unusable.
“We will have a seat for every child,” he said.
As for the buildings that were evacuated in Zone A during the storm, only about 55,000 still have to be inspected, Bloomberg said. He said 80 percent remain inhabitable.
Bloomberg also addressed the crane that has been dangling over West 57th Street in Midtown. He said early Saturday morning, workers went out on the crane, brought the boom against the building, tethered it to the building, and kept it from falling.
The city hoped to reopen 57th Street to traffic Saturday night, Bloomberg said.
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