The remains of a beachfront home that was torn in half by
the force of the water in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,
at Bay Head, New Jersey. REUTERS/Tom Mihalek
With freezing temperatures forecast, tens of thousands of
people hit by superstorm Sandy need temporary housing, New York
officials say, but it was not immediately clear where they
could all be sheltered.
The number of homes and businesses without power has fallen
to 1.9 million from a peak of 8.5 million since Sandy slammed
the US East Coast on Monday, authorities said early Sunday.
But nearly 1 million people in New Jersey and almost 730,000
in New York state are still without power, authorities said.
Many homes lack heat or were severely damaged by the storm.
"People are in homes that are uninhabitable and it's going to
become increasingly clear they are uninhabitable when the
temperature drops," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a
televised news conference. "Then we're going to have tens of
thousands of people that are going to need housing right
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said that some people
might not get power back for a very long time, a concern as
temperatures are expected to approach freezing in New York
City and even lower in northern suburbs early Monday.
A 71-year-old man died in New Jersey from the cold, state
police said Sunday.
"They need to be relocated and we need to find them and find
them housing," Gillibrand said.
Officials at the news conference did not put an exact figure
on the number of people who will need temporary housing.
Immediate plans call for keeping those who have been
displaced as near as possible to their homes, but where they
will be housed was not immediately clear. There are few
hotels in the New York City borough of Staten Island, for
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that 30,000 to
40,000 people will need housing, and he urged people to go to
local disaster sites.
"If you don't know where to go, stop a cop in the street,
they'll help you," Bloomberg said.
Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, said that 86,000 households have
registered for assistance and FEMA has set aside $97 million
The displacement recalls the massive relief effort for people
made homeless in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina
FEMA has 400 people knocking on doors, but many more are
needed, said New York Senator Charles Schumer.
The magnitude of Sandy's damage is still being calculated,
let alone its cost. In Suffolk County, on eastern Long
Island, 10,000 homes have been inundated, with at least 386
homes having suffered catastrophic damage, said chief deputy
county executive Regina Calcaterra in an interview.
"We have areas that are devastated," she said.
Suffolk County has begun labeling homes "red," "yellow" and
"green" based on their safety, and is sending electrical
inspectors to homes labeled "yellow," Calcaterra said.
Katrina caused more damage than any other single disaster in
US history in 2005. About 300,000 homes were destroyed or
rendered uninhabitable and 700,000 people were displaced,
according to an October 2009 congressional report.