Hurricane Sandy Day 5 Live Blog: Death Toll Rises Sharply

 @EllenKilloran on November 02 2012 10:00 AM
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 Brooklyn NY gas line 2
    Police tape blocks the entrance to a fuelling station where people wait inline in Brooklyn, N.Y. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 New York looters sign
    A sign posted outside a home in Long Beach, N.Y., has a pointed message for the criminally inclined. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 Boat on street 2
    Two women walk past a boat left sitting on a street blocks away from the shore by Hurricane Sandy. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 Brooklyn car tree 3
    The trunk of a tree remains on top of a luxury SUV following Hurricane Sandy in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 NY WTC US Coast Guard 2
    U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Spencer in New York harbor. Reuters/USCS
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 Brooklyn Bridge walk 2
    Commuters make their way across the Brooklyn Bridge, from Brookyn to Manhattan, in New York City on Friday. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 New Jersey beach damage 2
    Sn aerial view of Hurricane Sandy's destruction along the New Jersey shoreline. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2012 LMan boat 2
    Commuters on their way to Lower Manhattan Friday. Reuters
  • Sandy 2 Nov 2021 Staten Island NY gas station 2
    People stand in line with gas cans at a gas station on Staten Island in New York City after Hurricane Sandy. Reuters
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[05.15 a.m. ET] The death toll from Superstorm Sandy rose to 109 Friday night. New York City has reported 41 deaths so far and Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there could be more fatalities, NBC News reported. Staten Island accounted for half of the deaths in the city.

[04.30 a.m. ET] All but 65 public schools in New York City will reopen Monday. The students of the 65 badly damaged schools would be relocated to other city schools Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

[03.45 a.m. ET]  The Internal Revenue Service sandy (IRS) has extended filing and payment deadlines for taxpayers living in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey areas. Superstorm Sandy-affected individuals and businesses will get time till Feb. 1 to file returns and pay tax dues, the Associated Press has reported. 

[02.35 a.m. ET] The Energy Department has announced that it will release fuel from the northeast heating oil reserve to help rescue and restoration efforts, according to CNBC. Two million gallons of fuel will be released initially to run generators, emergency equipment and vehicles aiding the recovery work.

[01.30 a.m. ET] Federal authorities Friday sought the military’s help to deliver 24 million gallons of fuel to restore gas supply in the Superstorm Sandy-affected areas. The fuel shortage is severe in most of the areas ravaged by Sandy as about 50 percent of the gas stations are not functioning due to power outage.  

According to a New York Times report, the authorities have authorized the Pentagon to hire the trucks and deliver the gasoline and diesel to the affected areas in New Jersey. The fuel will be sourced mostly from the commercial suppliers.

[00.25 a.m. ET] Though the three major airports in New York area are open, accommodating all the passengers who got stuck remains a big task since about 20,000 flights were canceled this week in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Flight services are expected to come to normalcy by Monday, according to the USA Today.

Meanwhile, the fears of a shortage of jet fuel in New York airports have forced airlines like US Airways, United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines to put extra fuel on their New York-bound flights, the Associated Press has reported.  The measure is meant to ensure that the planes have enough fuel to leave the New York region.

[11.35 p.m. ET] Superstorm Sandy's death toll hit 102 Friday night, as crews searched for more victims in the hard-hit states of New York and New Jersey, according to Reuters.

The news agency reported 41 had died in New York City alone, about one-half of them in the borough of Staten Island.

[10:20 p.m. ET] New Jersey motorists of a certain age are having a collective flashback to the 1970s, as state Gov. Chris Christie announced Friday night that odd-even rationing of gasoline purchases in 12 of New Jersey's 21 counties will begin Saturday at noon EDT.

The odd-even system will take effect in the following counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren.

Under this system, all retail dealers of motor fuel will be required to sell motor fuel only for use in a passenger automobile bearing license plates. Those with license plates whose last number is odd will be able to buy gas only on odd-numbered days of the month; those with license plates whose last number is even will be able to buy gas only on even-numbered days of the month. Specialized plates -- or those not displaying a number -- will be considered odd-numbered plates.

"As New Jerseyans continue the long process of recovering from Hurricane Sandy," Christie said, "it's imperative that our families have secure, reliable access to essential supplies like fuel. Right now, the impact of the storm, particularly the continuance of widespread power outages, has created the disorderly sale of gas -- including long lines, out-of-operation stations, and stations facing shortages.”

According to the governor, "This system will ease the strain on those gas stations still operating, while we work to bring more on-line for the public to access fuel, in a manner that is fair, easy to understand, and less stressful.”  

Christie and state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa pledged to aggressively and vigorously enforce the order to ensure compliance and the effectiveness of the policy in the affected counties, according to the governor's announcement.

[9:20 p.m. ET] Corporate citizens in the Chicago area are assisting in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, not only by contributing cash and goods, but also by getting products on the shelves of stores in hard-hit regions.

“One of the biggest pushes is just getting the materials from all over the U.S. and getting them into the market,’’ Imran Jooma, a senior vice president at the Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD), told the Chicago Tribune. "The government, FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], and such rely on us to get those items in the market.”

Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., said in a statement it also has partnered with Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit group, to provide assistance to communities in their rebuilding efforts.

Meanwhile, electric-utility companies serving Illinois have provided workers to help restore power on the East Coast, the Tribune reported. Chicago-based ComEd, a unit of the Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC), has sent about 800 workers, and the St. Louis-headquartered Ameren Corp. (NYSE: AEE) has sent more than 600. Utilities that requested the assistance will pay for it.

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, are among the big cash contributors, the Tribune said, as they have given about $820,000 to charities helping the East Coast and provided another $180,000 worth of nutrition bars and drinks and medical supplies.

In addition, Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS), headquartered in Riverwoods, Ill., will be matching any donations its cardholders make via its cash-back program up to a total of $500,000. The credit-card company also is temporarily waving the merchant transaction fee it typically charges the Red Cross.

[8 p.m. ET] Kevin Bacon, Mary J. Blige, Tina Fey, James Gandolfini, Al Roker, and Jon Stewart are the latest stars to join NBCUniversal's broadcast of "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together," a one-hour live benefit telethon will air Friday across the networks of NBCUniversal, including NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, Style, Syfy and USA. The NBC Sports Network and The Weather Channel also will carry the event, beginning at this hour in the Eastern time zone.

It will air live across the East Coast and tape-delayed on the West Coast. Hosted by NBC "Today" anchor Matt Lauer, the telethon will be broadcast from the New York studios of NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It will benefit Red Cross relief efforts.

[5:42 p.m. ET] New York officials and event organizers have caved to overwhelming public and political pressure to cancel Sunday's New York City Marathon, scheduled to begin in Staten Island, where many residents are facing increasingly desperate living conditions in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office made the announcement Friday evening, just a few hours after Bloomberg had vehemently defended his decision to allow the marathon to go on in a Friday afternoon news briefing.

“The marathon has been an integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch,” Bloomberg said in a statement announcing the cancellation. “While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division.

"The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful as this -- to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track.”

[5:15 p.m. ET] More than 65,000 Manhattan residents and businesses that have been without power since Monday night have had service restored, according to a Bloomberg News update confirmed by witness reports. The East Village and Lower East Side have had power restored Friday as of about 5 p.m. EDT. The rest of Lower Manhattan's power is expected to be restored before midnight.

[4:35 p.m ET] The federal government will not weigh in on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial decision to go forward with Sunday's marathon, less than a week after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the greater New York area and while residents of Staten Island and other particularly hard hit areas are struggling with flooding, power outages, food and water shortages, cold weather. and lack of transportation.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One Friday that it was up to New York officials to determine whether the marathon should take place as scheduled.

"We engage with state and local officials and rely on them to tell us what their needs are," Carney said, according to Politico. "Decisions at the state and local level are made appropriately by state and local officials.”

[3:40 p.m. ET] CBS will make a million-dollar donation to the Red Cross toward Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, CEO Les Moonves announced in a letter to employees obtained by TheWrap Friday.

"I am announcing today that November, the month of Thanksgiving, will be dedicated at all our operations to supporting the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts of the American Red Cross, with whom CBS has a long partnership in times of crisis," he wrote. "Our local TV and radio stations, and their online counterparts, will work both inpidually and together... to employ our unique resources to lend additional support to those relief efforts through telethons, phone banks and comprehensive PSA campaigns. 

"As a cornerstone of this month-long drive, CBS Corporation will make a $1 million contribution to the American Red Cross," he continued. "In addition, we are also making a commitment to match your inpidual contributions to any Sandy-related relief efforts by making corresponding additional gifts to the American Red Cross. The match will apply to contributions that may have already been made as well as to new donations through the end of the year."

[3:20 p.m. ET] More than $18 million in federal relief has been distributed to areas ravaged by Hurricane Sandy this week, a FEMA administrator told CNN -- suggesting  that the need for federal aid could have been reduced if those living in affected areas had bought flood insurance. A significant portion of the federal aid will go towards rental assistance which can extend for up to 18 months for those displaced by water damage.

“A lot of folks who flooded did not have flood insurance,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said.

Storm damage has taken a devastating toll on homes in coastal southern New Jersey and New York, with Staten Island being the hardest hit in terms of fatalities: More than half of the city's 41 deaths have been reported there so far.

On Friday afternoon, Mayor Bloomberg took to Twitter to urge fellow New Yorkers to donate blood in order to supplement the Red Cross's dwindling supply due to cancelled blood drives this past week.

[Update 1:45 p.m. ET] Con Edison has promised that "most" of Manhattan will have power restored by midnight Friday, Mayor Bloomberg said in a news briefing Friday afternoon, which is slightly earlier than Con Ed's previous assurances of power being restored by sometime Saturday. Residents outside of Manhattan with overhead wire electricity can expect power to be restored by Nov. 11.

The mayor continued to defend the decision to have Sunday's marathon go on as scheduled, and insisted in the briefing that resources will not be perted from areas in need of emergency services in order to support the race.

[Update 1:00 p.m. ET] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised relief for the dire gas shortages in New York City with the arrival of million of gallons of fuel to New York harbor, which was partially reopened Thursday.

In a news briefing Friday afternoon, Gov. Cuomo said that storm damages and power outages at distribution centers were to blame for the long lines and short supply of gas at service stations that have been in operation. 

“There should be a real change in condition and people should see it quickly,” Cuomo said. “Millions of gallons of gasoline are now through the harbor and going into the distribution network.”

The region's Coast Guard manager said that two million barrels had already been delivered.

[Update 11:45 a.m. ET] As the Northeast inches towards recovery from Hurricane Sandy, 3.3 million customers in 15 states remain without power, and residents in the hardest hit areas are struggling to survive, pleading  for help from local and government officials to help keep them fed, warm and dry. 

"We're going to die ... we're going to freeze," Staten Island resident Donna Solli pleaded before a group of visiting officials and reporters on Thursday. "We got 90-year-old people. You don't understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on this corner now."

Solli said she had only one slice of pizza to eat in the previous 48 hours.

The dramatically varied impacts of Hurricane Sandy on New York City residents has widened an existing socioeconomic pide and created a new paradigm of have's and have-not's. While neighborhoods in upper Manhattan, Queens and North Brooklyn were minimally impacted by the storm, residents in Rockaway Beach and Staten Island suffered dramatic losses and face continued shortages of basic survival necessities. In lower Manhattan, which suffered a near-total power outage, Reuters columnist David Rhodes observed that the wealthy TriBeCa neighborhood had been almost entirely abandoned -- as most residents there are able to afford a temporary relocation -- while those living in lower income communities were trapped without resources, many in high rise buildings without working elevators.

Adding to the increasing tension are critical gas shortages and the city's plans to go forward with the scheduled New York City Marathon this coming Sunday,  one that has pided New Yorkers and prompted an onslaught of criticism. While Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the city's decision to move forward, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a statement on Friday that he felt the marathon should not go on.

"New Yorkers in Staten Island, the Rockaways, Coney Island and Lower Manhattan are struggling to keep body and soul together, deprived of basic essentials as temperatures drop.

"For this reason, and after significant deliberation, I believe we should postpone and re-schedule the New York City Marathon in order to focus all of the City's resources on the crucial task of helping our neighbors recover from this disaster. New Yorkers deserve nothing less than to know that the entire government is focused solely on returning the City and their region back to normalcy."

In continued small signs of progress, Staten Island Ferry service will be restored at noon on Friday, and Amtrak has resumed service between New York City to Boston and Washington, D.C.

[Update 10:27 a.m. ET] Over a million people in Haiti are facing food shortages as a result of Hurricane Sandy, which humanitarian officials fear may have destroyed significant portions of the nation's harvest.

Roughly 1.2 million people are facing food insecurity in the impoverished nation, which was hit by Hurricane Isaac two months before Sandy ravaged the Caribbean country, killing at least 67. A devastating 2010 earthquake killed over 300,000 residents and left a million without homes.

“We fear that a great deal of the harvest which was ongoing in the south of the country may have been destroyed completely,” Johan Peleman, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said in an interview with UN Radio.

“Already, the drought and the previous storm had hit the northern part of the country very badly and we had seen the levels of food insecurity rise there,” he added. “With the south being hit now, we are going to face in the next couple of months very serious problems of malnutrition and food insecurity.”

[Update 9:55 a.m. ET] New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is among those facing criticism for allowing this Sunday's marathon to go on as scheduled while hundreds of thousands of area residents are struggling with basic living conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Among the key grievances is the intended use of generators along the marathon route, and the use of law enforcement and security personnel that could be otherwise dispatched to storm ravaged neighborhoods.

 "The notion of perting even one police officer, one first responder, one asset away from this carnage is beyond irrational,”  Staten Island Councilman James Oddo told The Daily News.

"The mayor said to me, 'We're not going to diminish what is happening on Staten Island.' You know what happens on marathons - you put a cop on every corner. How are we going to have enough resources?"

The New York Road Runners on Thursday announced Thursday that it had created the “2012 ING New York City Marathon Race to Recover Fund” and contributed an initial donation of $1 million to go towards hurricane recovery efforts.

[Update 9:24 a.m. ET] Hurricane Sandy's death toll has risen to 98, with half of New York City's 40 deaths in Staten Island, where residents have been pleading for more emergency help as they struggle with flooding, food and water shortages, and cold temperatures.

Gas stations in New York City and New Jersey continue to face critical gas shortages, conflict at the pump, and long lines -- in some areas, police officers have been posted at gas stations.

[Update 8:50 a.m. ET]  Friday, the fifth day after Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, dawned with the rescuers facing the rising death toll and the anger over the delayed aid. The death toll rose to 98 Thursday night and this could rise Friday, as rescuers continued searching houses in the coastal towns.

People in Staten Island, which accounted for half of the 40 deaths in New York City, expressed frustrations over the delay in getting any help. Calling the area "the forgotten borough," the residents expressed anger over the aid pouring into other parts of New York and New Jersey, CBS reported.

On Thursday night, rescuers and emergency workers faced shortage of gas which disrupted their work in areas which faced power outages.

On the brighter side, flight services in New York area’s major airports may come to normalcy Friday and there will be improved train services in the affected regions.

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