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City Housing Buildings Back On Grid After Lengthy Storm Outage

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The lights were expected to be back on at all of the city's public housing buildings overnight, but some residents say that's not the case.

The city shut down power to all public housing the day before Sandy hit, along with heat, hot water and elevators.

Although the city announced Tuesday night that the remaining 402 New York City Housing Authority properties without power had their electricity restored, those visited by NY1 Wednesday in Red Hook showed otherwise: Hallways and lobbies were lit, but some apartments still remain in the dark.

Some residents NY1 spoke to in Red Hook say their power is spotty at best, while others say they still have no electricity.

The housing authority said this is because there's a delay between power restoration and its actual return due to damaged circuits.

Speaking on "The Call" Wednesday night, NYCHA General Manager Cecil House said that the authority had to take down electricity to about 95 apartments to make repairs to improvements put in place over the last few days.

Residents are growing impatient.

"We have elderly people, my mother one, she's hospitalized, she can't come home. She's on oxygen. We don't have the proper electricity for her oxygen tank," said one resident. "My granddaughter has bronchial asthma. We don't have the proper electricity for her nebulizer. Housing is going around saying everything is fine, but it's not, sir."

Roughly 18,000 residents in 92 buildings still have no heat or hot water.

In Brooklyn, the buildings without heat or hot water by Wednesday afternoon were:
- 4 buildings in the Carey Gardens development.
- 5 buildings in the Coney Island development.
- 1 building in the Coney Island I (Site 8) development.
- 2 buildings in the Coney Island I (Sites 4 and 5) development.
- 6 buildings in the O'Dwyer Gardens development.
- 4 buildings in the Surfside Gardens development.
- 7 buildings in the Red Hook East development.
- 13 buildings in the Red Hook West development.

In Queens, the buildings without heat or hot water by Wednesday afternoon were:
- 1 building in the Carleton Manor development.
- 14 buildings in the Hammel development.
- 24 buildings in the Ocean Bay Apartments (Bayside) development.

The mayor's office has not given a timetable for when heat will be back in those buildings.

House said they expect to provide 14 temporary boilers over the next two days, and says those boilers should bring the total of residents without heat down to zero.

NYCHA officials also said that by Wednesday afternoon, power was restored to 632 of 699 elevators that were affected by Sandy.

Meanwhile, the governor is advancing his probe into the state's utility providers as thousands remain in the dark.

The governor is forming a commission under the Moreland Act to investigate their response, preparation, and management during major storms that have hit the state over the past two years, including Sandy and Hurricane Irene.

The 10-member commission will look at how power companies handled the emergencies and make recommendations for what needs to be done better in the future.

Back on Monday, Consolidated Edison announced it had restored power to more than one million customers affected by Sandy and last week's nor'easter.

Con Ed says it looks forward to working with the commission conducting the investigation. The utility says it is always working to improve service to its customers, including reviewing new technology and infrastructure.

The utility says it has restored power to all remaining customers in the city whose equipment could be restored.

Con Ed says the one million restorations do not include approximately 16,300 customers in flood damaged areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

The utility says those customers will not see the lights come on until their own internal equipment is repaired, tested and certified by an electrician.

Con Ed's figures do not include the hard-hit Rockaways in Queens, which are served by LIPA.

LIPA also responded to the announcement of the commission in a statement, saying, "Given the extreme weather patterns we have seen, a statewide study is appropriate."

LIPA announced Monday it has 67,000 customers throughout the region without power, including 29,000 in the Rockaways whose homes are too damaged to be re-electrified.

Meanwhile, the state attorney general's office will reportedly investigate Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority in connection with their response to Sandy.

Sources tell NY1 that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpeoned both utilities Wednesday.

He will reportedly investigate their performance while restoring power in the aftermath of Sandy, as well as their preparation leading up to the storm.

The attorney general will also reportedly look into how Con Ed and LIPA communicated with customers without power.

NY1 is told the subpeonas are not related to the commission created by Governor Cuomo to investigate utilities involved with Sandy.

More than two million New Yorkers were in the dark following the storm.

To report an outage or downed wires, call 1-800-75-CON ED or by going online to coned.com.

Con Ed says it will NOT pay residential claims for food and medicine that spoiled as a result of Sandy.

The utility says because the hurricane was beyond its control, it is not responsible for property damage and other losses, like food and prescription medicine.

Con Ed's website does say you can file a claim if you lost items as a result of a power outage, but a disclaimer at the top of the page states the company is not responsible for items lost during Hurricane Sandy.

The company says that while it did pre-emptively shut down some power networks, it was in the interest of minimizing damage.


Transit Latest

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that one of the last remaining traffic hurdles of Sandy is being cleared while also outlining plans to investigate the preparedness and response of utility companies serving New Yorkers.

The governor said effective immediately one lane of the eastern tube of the Hugh L. Carey-Brooklyn Battery tunnel will be open for cars traveling in peak directions during rush hours.

Manhattan-bound cars and buses will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., and for Brooklyn-bound cars and buses from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

One lane will remain dedicated for express buses.

No trucks will be allowed.

The western tube remains closed for repairs.

Cuomo joined Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on a walk-through before the reopening Thursday.

At the height of the storm, Cuomo said the tunnel was flooded with an estimated 43 million gallons of sea water, causing heavy damage to its electrical, lighting, communications, surveillance and ventilation systems.

Cuomo said no timetable was set for when the western tube will reopen.

Meanwhile, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Tuesday that the 1 Train is now running to Rector Street.

The only stop it is still not making is South Ferry, as that station was completely flooded by the storm. Lhota says there's no timetable on when it will reopen.

He also said it could be a while before R train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn is restored. The tunnel which carries the line across the East River is finally dry, but signals and other systems have to be repaired.

Lhota said the Rockaways will have A train service to the rest of the city as soon as LIPA can get the power on in that section.

Without subway service from the Rockaways, temporary ferry service is up and running to Manhattan.

Seastreak ferries are running regularly from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive to Pier 11 near Wall Street where commuters can get a free transfer to the East 34th Street Pier.

The ferry costs $2 each way and boats will be running regularly throughout the morning and evening rush.

Free parking will be available for Rockaways ferry riders starting on Thursday morning at a lot on Beach Channel Drive, across the street from the ferry landing.

PATH train riders are also getting additional service.

Service between Manhattan and Newark-Penn Station in New Jersey resumed Monday morning, with trains stopping at Journal Square, Grove Street and Newport stations and at the 14th, 23rd and 33rd Street stations in Manhattan.

PATH service remains suspended at the badly damaged Hoboken, Exchange Place and World Trade Center stations.


Alternate-Side Parking Suspended In Certain Neighborhoods

Alternate-side parking resumed in most parts of the city on Wednesday, but the city Departments of Transportation and Sanitation say it is suspended indefinitely in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

On Wednesday, DOT officials announced that alternate-side parking is suspended in two more areas, Brooklyn Community Boards 6 and 18.

Brooklyn Community Board 6 covers Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Gowanus, Boerum Hill and Cobble Hill.

Brooklyn Community Board 18 covers Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Flatlands, Marine Park, Georgetown and Mill Island.

Previously on Tuesday, city officials announced alternate-side parking is suspended in three other areas: Brooklyn Community Board 13, which represents Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Sea Gate; Brooklyn Community Board 15, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach and Homecrest; and Queens Community Board 14, which covers the Rockaways.

Staten Island does not normally have alternate-side parking.


Response and Relief

Licensed contractors and inspectors began fanning out across some of the hardest-hit areas of the city Tuesday as part of an effort to speed up repairs for homeowners affected by Sandy.

View a list of ways to help local Sandy relief efforts.

The Rapid Repairs program is designed to speed up the repair and permit process.

Contractors will choose the electricians, plumbers, and other subcontractors to do the work.

Under the typical process by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, homeowners have to arrange their own repairs. However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the Rapid Repairs process will get New Yorkers back into their homes faster.

To take part in the program, homeowners must have a FEMA ID number which can be obtained at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.

Homeowners can also get a FEMA ID number at one of the city's restoration centers.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg described them as "one-stop shops" where people affected by the storm will be able to get a wide range of emergency and long-term assistance services all under one roof.

They are located in Coney Island at Our Lady of Solace, in Gravesend at the SSA Building, in Far Rockaway at 10-01 Beach 20th St, and on Staten Island at 1976 Hylan Boulevard. The centers are open until 8 p.m.

View the full list of city restoration centers.

FEMA has approved more than $400 million in storm aid for housing and other aid for Sandy victims in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

To find a FEMA disaster recovery center near you, visit fema.gov.

Residents who applied for emergency assistance after Sandy may not need to move to a temporary shelter while crews repair your home.

Governor Cuomo said FEMA will send in contractors to do basic electric and structural repairs.

Those repairs will make it safe for residents to stay in their homes, even while crews do large-scale repairs later on.

The program only applies to those living in federally declared disaster zones.

Residents can register your home for disaster assistance by contacting 1-800-621-FEMA.

Meantime, the City Council unanimously approved a $500 million emergency plan Tuesday to pay for repairs to schools and hospitals.

It will allocate $200 million for the Department of Education and $300 million to the Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Work will include structural restorations, new boilers, new electrical systems and roof repairs.

Bloomberg said he will still seek federal reimbursement but the city cannot afford to wait for approval.

"As you know New York City has never been one to sit back and wait for the funding," said the mayor. "When we something that absolutely has to be done, we do it and then we figure out afterwards how to pay for it. It's just the difference between us I think and everybody else. We do things, we get them done, we understand we're in this together, and we're not gonna wait for anybody. Hopefully they will come through but regardless we still have to make sure every child gets a good education and that everybody when they need emergency care can get it."

Bloomberg said the city previously earmarked $134 million for storm-related emergency relief.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state Department of Financial Services disaster hotline will now be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help residents who recovering from Sandy damage.

New Yorkers can call 1-800-339-1759 for insurance-related questions and to file complaints, according to the governor's office.

The deadline for New Yorkers who lost their job or income due to Sandy to apply for federal disaster unemployment assistance is extended from December 3, 2012 to February 4, 2013.

In addition, according to Cuomo, claimants now have up to 90 days to submit proof of employment or self-employment and will be provided an IRS link to expedite the retrieval of lost or destroyed tax documents.

A city health official says the storm-damaged Bellevue and Coney Island Hospitals won't be fully running until early next year.

Both hospitals were evacuated after being inundated by Sandy.

Coney Island is currently running outpatient services.

The president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation says the hospitals can only reopen their emergency rooms with state permission, especially since Bellevue's ER would have to run on generator power for awhile.

He says the operating rooms, critical care units, and other facilities could be open by January 1 at Coney Island and the first week of February at Bellevue.

Meantime, the storm cleanup is also presenting health hazards, and state officials are suggesting that New Yorkers get a tetanus vaccination.

People who have not had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years are especially urged to get one.

The New York City Fire Department is helping with the clean-up effort in the Rockaways.

Firefighters hosed down Beach 59th Street in Arverne Wednesday, where sand was still covering the road.

The Rockaways was one of the areas hit hardest by the storm.


More City Schools Open

Meanwhile, more storm-damaged city schools re-opened their doors Tuesday.

Fifteen schools serving 6,000 students are back online, though some are still running on generators.

The New York City Department of Education says 33 schools, serving approximately 15,000 students, remain in their relocated sites.

The DOE says that students at I.S. 211 John Wilson will be able to return to their regular building Thursday.

According to the DOE, water was pumped from and fuel oil was cleaned from the building. A temporary boiler was also installed at the school.

Shuttle buses are being provided for all kindergarten through eighth grade students.

City officials say they are hopeful that 31 of those locations will be up and running by the end of the month.

Repairs at the other six locations may not be complete until next year.

For more information, visit schools.nyc.gov.


Gas Rationing End Date Unclear

Bloomberg said the city's odd-even gas rationing seems to have eased the post-Sandy pain at the pump, but it's not clear when it will end.

The rationing system took effect Friday after the storm disrupted the area's fuel distribution network.

Wait times for gas have diminished from hours to minutes in many places.

The mayor says he plans to leave the system in place for now.

New Jersey ended its rationing Tuesday.

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