NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Attendance was high Monday at New York City public schools, which were open for the first time since Superstorm Sandy slammed the region.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced 86 percent of students showed up to school; attendance was the same last year on the Monday before Election Day.
1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports from New Dorp High School
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, in the Manhattan Beach section of Brooklyn, where furniture and household possessions littered the curbs, Darlene Fariano was happy to have her 8-year-old daughter back in school.
The children were devastated by the storm as they saw cars sink into the surge and feared they could drown.
Most of the more than 1,700 schools in New York City have reopened, but not all.
On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg visited with students at P.S. 195 in Manhattan Beach.
“Hurricane Sandy did flood the basement of P.S. 195, but crews did a good job and they got the pumping going, and I went to take a look,” Bloomberg said.
A small group of people upset their power had still not been restored shouted questions and complaints at the mayor as he made his way into the school.
One after another, angry homeowners vented as they waited for Bloomberg to arrive.
“I’ve lost everything in the basement – heating. I have no light, no heat, no telephone,” one woman said.
“Our basement was completely destroyed. We have oil running through our basement, so it’s unlivable. You can’t breathe when you go in there,” a man said.
1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports
The mayor stopped and patiently spoke to angry and frustrated residents. He insisted the city was doing the best it could.
“We’re doing the best we can, and our Police Department’s working hard, Con Ed is working hard, our Sanitation Department, and they can’t work any harder,” he said.
WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports
Bloomberg, who is an engineer by trade, did his best to offer assistance to the residents.
“I can’t go and do it myself, I just don’t have a license to do it. But I’m convinced that everybody is trying as hard as they can. You’ve got to understand, this is a storm like we’ve never had before and everybody’s trying to accommodate and make do. And we’ve just got to find a way to work together as long as your life is not threatened,” Bloomberg said.
Residents said they were afraid looters may prey on their community next.
Sixteen schools, including Staten Island’s Tottenville High, were closed Monday since they were serving as emergency shelters for those left homeless by Sandy. Bloomberg said he was hoping to have those schools reopened by Wednesday.
“Those shelters will either be moved elsewhere or will stay where they are, but in a manner that won’t interfere with school operations,” Bloomberg said.
There were 48 schools as of Monday that suffered structural damage and 19 were still without power. Students in damaged schools were to re-start classes on Wednesday at other locations.
On the Lower East Side, school children at P.S. 134 and 137 who dressed warmly outside, also did so inside.
“It’s freezing today,” said teacher Rebecca Meyers. “We have no heat in our school. We’re wearing scarves, gloves, sweaters inside.”
A mile away at Murray Bergtraum High School near the Broooklyn Bridge, there was also no heat.
Student teacher Duncan Blair said it was “a little chilly,” but a good amount of students showed up.
“It seemed to me the same number of students showed up as on a normal Monday,” he said.
And many students who returned to school on Monday were happy to be back in class, CBS 2’s Katie McGee reported.
“From all accounts, students are showing up and are really excited to be back,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
After witnessing the devastation and living in the storm’s aftermath, many students and teachers said they needed to get back to class to restore some sort of normalcy to their lives.
“We haven’t been back in school for a week and even though people like that, I don’t think it is something to be happy about, ’cause we are not in school for a very bad reason and I am glad to be back,” New Dorp High School senior Maram Masoud said.
“It will be good for us and good for the kids to get back into a routine, some familiarity,” teacher Naomi Weintraub added.
Some students admitted it would be difficult to concentrate in class, but said they were ready to open up a new chapter and close the book on Sandy, McGee reported.