Evacuations Ordered as Second Storm Threatens New York

Tuesday, 06 Nov 2012 07:33 AM

 

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A New Jersey shore town ordered evacuations while New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is considering them for his state as a new storm threatens gales, rain and flooding.

Brick Township issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in the low-lying waterfront areas by 6 p.m. Those elsewhere whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy were “strongly encouraged” to leave, according to a notice on the town’s website.

Sandy knocked out power to 8.5 million homes and businesses across 21 states after hitting the coast Oct. 29. About 1 million remained without power, mostly in New York and New Jersey, where temperatures are near freezing, according to the U.S. Energy Department. About 31 percent of the 36,000 homes and businesses in Brick have no power today, according to Jersey Central Power & Light.

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“The really damaged communities have a lower threshold to sustain damage from this storm and should have a lower threshold for evacuation,” Cuomo, a 54-year-old Democrat, said yesterday. “Take evacuation orders seriously, please, please, please.”

Cuomo said he ordered insurers to accept homeowners’ photos and videos of damage, rather than wait for an on-site inspection by a claims adjuster, so debris can be cleared before the new storm turns it into projectiles, he said. “Dangerously fragile” homes may have to be destroyed, he said.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said thousands of people, at least half in public housing, may need shelter. The mayor, who on Nov. 4 estimated the number might be as high as 40,000, said yesterday that number “something less” than 10,000.

The mayor named Brad Gair, 52, who served as recovery officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the Sept. 11 attacks, as director of housing-recovery operations. The mayor also appointed four directors to serve as the primary points of contact for residents, community groups and elected officials in the hardest-hit communities.

The arrival of colder weather with so many residents still blacked out “is the next big problem for us,” said Bloomberg, who is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Emergency workers were distributing blankets along with food and water, and police used loudspeakers to urge people to go where they could be warm and safe, he said.

The National Weather Service said the new storm may bring wind gusts of as much as 60 miles per hour and drive a tidal surge up to four feet above normal.

New Jersey’s coast is likely to experience “moderate” flooding, Gary Szatkowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said in a written briefing yesterday. The storm is also likely to erode beaches, he said.

Sandy, the biggest Atlantic storm in history, raked the region with winds of as much as 100 miles an hour. Its surge of more than 13 feet inundated transit tunnels and underground utilities, destroyed homes and chewed away natural barriers such as beaches.

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The storm’s effects promise to linger.

New Jersey Transit “is still several weeks away from full service restoration,” according to a statement. Additional buses, temporary park-and-ride facilities and ferries were offered to help fill the gap after the destruction of 80 percent of its infrastructure, the service said.

New Jersey Transit bus service to and from the Port Authority terminal had 15 to 30 minute delays at about 8:45 a.m. The agency on Twitter urged commuters to avoid crowded buses from Hoboken to New York and take the free ferry from Liberty State Park.

Sarah Konecny, 25, said her North Jersey Coast Line train commute from her home in Woodbridge, New Jersey, to her job managing Greene Street, a shop in Red Bank, normally takes 30 minutes and costs $14. Konecny said she’s spending $150 round- trip to take taxis.

“I’m paying $150 a day, but I have to get back to work,” she said as she folded a shirt and counted inventory at the store yesterday.

People displaced from their homes faced more hardships.

Francisco Sanchez, 34, is sleeping at a shelter at John Jay High School in Brooklyn’s Park Slope. A tree fell on the house in Bushwick where he lived with his girlfriend, Jessie Perez, in a one-bedroom basement apartment for which they paid $175 a week. When he returned, they found the basement was flooded and their clothes ruined with a mixture of water, mud and sewage.

He said the shelter won’t let unmarried couples stay together. “The next step for us, we be in the street,” he said.

While many privately owned apartment buildings and residences have sprung back to life, public housing, such as the Red Hook Houses near Brooklyn’s waterfront, are in shambles.

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Carolyn Bonilla held back sobs as she descended an unlit, garbage-strewn staircase there. Housing Authority crews pumped out the basement with a small hose. Every time they emptied it, the basement filled again with groundwater from the saturated soil. Bonilla said she’d had enough of life on the 12th floor without power or running water.      

“I can’t do this no more,” said Bonilla, 44, a cosmetics saleswoman at Macy’s. “We are decent people, we are working people. I am being treated like an animal. I have no water, no lights. I have nothing.”

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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