People walk past a "I Survived Hurricane Sandy" t-shirt
hanging on a rack for sale in Times Square in New York.
Photo by Reuters.
New Yorkers have taken to the streets to reinforce
recovery from Superstorm Sandy, volunteering to help clean up
devastated neighbourhoods and using an annual Veterans Day
parade to collect donations for victims still struggling
without homes or electricity.
Police raised the storm-related fatality toll in New York
City to 43, adding the death of a 77-year-old retired
custodian who was found paralysed last week at the bottom of
the steps of his apartment building in Rockaway, Queens, with
He died at a hospital on Saturday (local time), they said.
At least 121 people have perished in the storm, which caused
an estimated $US50 billion in property damage and economic
losses and ranks as one of the most destructive natural
disasters to hit the U.S. Northeast.
The Rockaways peninsula of the city's Queens borough was
especially hard hit when Sandy barrelled into the East Coast
on October 29, unleashing a record storm surge that flooded
low-lying areas and fierce winds that toppled trees and power
Many residents said they felt exhausted.
Priscilla Perez, 30, was climbing up 11 flights of stairs in
the dark, carrying clothes, jugs of water supplies and her
1-year-old daughter to an apartment at the Bay Towers in
Rockaway Park. Helping carry the load was her 10-year-old
son, Elijah, who she said is struggling with the impact of
"He doesn't want to eat. He's never been through anything
like this," she said. "I tell him when we go to get food,
'Take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, take a hot dog,'
but he says no."
Recovery workers, from volunteers to firefighters, National
Park Service workers and thousands of National Guard members,
helped clean up in Queens and the city's Staten Island
borough, also badly damaged, clearing mounds of garbage, sand
Medical teams went door to door to check on residents in
high-rise buildings without power.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano paid a
visit on Sunday to hundreds of federal recovery workers
crammed into the mess hall aboard the T.S. Kennedy, a
merchant marine training ship docked on Staten Island to
serve as a floating hotel for government employees taking
part in the effort.
"Thank you, and thank you, and thank you," she told the
workers, adding, "I hope you take some pride in what you're
Throughout the Eastern seaboard, thousands of homes were
destroyed or badly damaged, millions were left without power,
and commerce was brought to a virtual standstill in the
immediate aftermath of the storm.
The misery was compounded by an unseasonably early winter
storm, or "Nor'easter" that lashed the region on Wednesday
with more heavy winds, along with rain, sleet and snow. As
many as 8.6 million utility customers lost electricity at
some point in the midst of the back-to-back storms.
On Sunday, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sandy first
struck, thousands were still in temporary shelters, while the
tally of power outages had dwindled to about 167,000,
according to the U.S. Energy Department.
New York accounted for most of the remaining outages, the
bulk of them on Long Island.
In what was likely to be a great relief to hundreds of
thousands of commuters struggling to get to jobs without mass
transit, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie announced that some PATH trains that
connect New York and New Jersey would resume service on
However, service at the Hoboken, Exchange Place and World
Trade Centre stations was still suspended due to severe
flooding and will likely remain so for several weeks, they
Officials also announced the limited reopening of the
Governor Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, formerly known as the
Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, for rush-hour bus service Monday
The tunnel, which connects Brooklyn with downtown Manhattan,
flooded with an estimated 162.8 million litres of water that
damaged electrical, lighting, communications, surveillance
and ventilation systems, authorities said.
In addition, Amtrak planned to reopen the so-called North
Turbe rail tunnel under the Hudson for Amtrak passenger train
and New Jersey Transit commuter service on Monday, according
to a statement from U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New
He said the tunnel, which was shut down immediately following
Sandy, was expected to operate at 63 percent of normal
capacity as further work continued.
COLLECTING COATS FOR THE DISPLACED
Organisers of the Veterans Day parade, New York City's first
major post-Sandy event since its annual marathon race was
canceled last weekend, asked spectators lining the parade
route to bring winter coats to be donated to storm victims.
The group New York Cares was hoping to collect 50,000 coats
by week's end, part of an annual drive that began two weeks
early to help Sandy victims.
"What's wonderful is that veterans came to us and felt in the
spirit of service, that is so prevalent among folks in the
armed forces, they wanted to make sure the veterans were not
only being honored today but also doing their bit to help,"
said Gary Bagley, the group's executive director.
Lingering power outages tested the patience of many residents
who had been living without lights, heat or water for
extended periods. Sharp criticism was leveled in particular
at the Long Island Power Authority, or LIPA, which was still
trying to restore service to some 62,000 customers.
Speaking on CNN, U.S. Representative Peter King, who
represents the area, called the situation "a disgrace."
"The LIPA has failed miserably. They are not doing a good
job," he said. "It really has reached crisis proportions."
Sunday also marked the third day of gas rationing in New York
City, under a system in which cars with odd- and
even-numbered license plates can fill up only on alternate
President Barack Obama is to visit hard-hit areas of New York
City on Thursday.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a radio address that the city
has distributed almost 2 million meals, 500,000 litres of
water and more than 100,000 blankets as well as space
heaters, baby supplies and flashlight batteries.
The city also was distributing underwear, winter hats, toilet
paper, bleach, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and towels.
Bloomberg said the city was sending in teams of contractors
and inspectors to help hasten the process of restoring power
to thousands of utility customers in Brooklyn, Queens and
Staten Island who cannot get electricity back until equipment
is repaired and tested.
In Staten Island, a fear of crime in the darkened
neighborhoods was evident in signs hanging on many houses
that read "Beware of Dog" or "This home is Remington
In Queens, small cranes scooped up mounds of sand washed
ashore by the storm, and firefighters used hoses to
"We're taking it one day at a time," said Jim Long, a
firefighter whose home suffered water damage. "The water
table is pretty high. You clean out some water and come back
the next day and there's more water."