Sandy Live Blog Day 11: Nor'easter Adds To Superstorm Victims’ Misery

on November 07 2012 7:58 AM
  •  Nor'easter
    A man walks toward a police car during a nor'easter, also known as a northeaster storm, in the Red Hook Neighborhood of New York
  • Sandy Aftermath Manhattan Commuters
    Commuters wait for express buses to Manhattan from the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Saturday. Reuters
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[Update 05:15 a.m.] The nor'easter which hit the Northeast Wednesday might be less powerful than Superstorm Sandy, which killed over 110 people and inflicted a huge damage on the East Coast. But the wintry storm presented itself before the Sandy victims, who were trying to recover from a crisis, as a destructive force.  

The nor'easter knocked out power supply to almost 60,000 customers in New York and New Jersey. Strong winds brought trees and limbs of trees down, cutting electric wires in many areas.

About 5.5 inches of snow covered parts of New York, New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and Connecticut by Wednesday night, according to USA Today.

In New York, residents in low-lying areas were asked to move to safer places. And people whose houses were damaged by Sandy had a harrowing night following the dip in the temperature.

Hundreds of flights were canceled in the major airports in the affected areas. Commuters using all methods of travel are likely to face hardships Thursday on account of snow-covered roads and rail signal failures.

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[Update 04:40 a.m.] Many flights in New York’s three major airports were cancelled Wednesday and many more might be cancelled Thursday in anticipation of the worsening climate.

Schools in New York City will open for all of the city's 1.1 million students Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

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[Update 03:30 a.m.] The nor'easter forced the cancelation of about 1,200 flights across the Northeast. It stopped train services in some areas. Long Island Rail Road service suspended services in the evening because of weather-related signal problems. The storm affected traffic in many places. 

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[Update 01:15 a.m.] A nor'easter storm hit the Northeast Wednesday, bringing snow and rain and knocking out power in many places which were yet to recover from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The wintry storm added to the misery of thousands of Sandy victims in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut whose homes were destroyed by the superstorm, Reuters reported.

The nor'easter brought down tree limbs and electric wires in New York and New Jersey. The latest storm knocked out power in 22,000 homes and businesses in the area between Carolinas and New York.

On Tuesday, ahead of the storm, New York and New Jersey evacuated residents from some low-lying areas. 

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[Update 00:55 a.m.] The Weather Channel Tuesday named nor'easter “Athena.” But the National Weather Service said it wouldn’t recognize the name for the nor’easter.

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[Update 00:05 a.m.]The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York raised more than $32 million from over 10,000 donors. Mayor Michael Bloomberg Wednesday said the all the money raised as donation will be used for emergency and restoration work. The city is identifying immediate aid needs, including food, water and hygiene supplies as well as long-term relief and restoration efforts.

 

“Over the past week, thousands of people from around the city and across the country have stepped forward to help New Yorkers whose lives have been turned upside down by Hurricane Sandy. I want to thank everyone who has given – your generosity is helping our city to get back on its feet,” the mayor said.

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[Update 10:44 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was hopeful Wednesday evening that the nor’easter would not greatly hamper efforts to clean up the damage left by Hurricane sandy.

“Our expectation is that (Thursday) we will be back working and it will not slow down,” he said, according to the New York Daily News.

The worst of the new storm was expected as Wednesday night wore on, and the mix of snow and rain was forecast to continue into Thursday afternoon.

Service on the Long Island Rail Road was temporarily halted Wednesday night because of "multiple weather-related problems," according to an alert released just before 7 p.m, the Daily News said. The MTA resumed limited service an hour later, but delays were still expected and it wasn't clear when full service would be restored.

Sustained 30 mph winds were expected through the evening, along with near-freezing temperatures. Hours after the storm hit, Nassau County authorities closed a stretch of the Long Island Expressway between Old Westbury and Jericho due to icy conditions.

Coastal flood warnings were posted for sections of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx that are still reeling from Sandy.

Storm surges were expected to reach up to four feet – well below the record 14-foot swells caused by Sandy. The next high tide is early Thursday morning.

[Update 8:18 p.m.] New power outages hit the New York metro area Wednesday as the nor’easter brought heavy wind and snow.

By the afternoon, the winds had caused some 22,000 new power outages in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the U.S. Energy Department stated, according to NBC. That does not include 650,000 outages that remain from Superstorm Sandy.

By about 5 p.m., the northeaster had knocked out electricity to roughly 16,000 Consolidated Edison customers, The New York Times reported. All told, 80,000 Con Edison customers had no power on Wednesday evening, up from about 64,000 earlier in the day, according to the company’s Web site.

The Long Island Power Authority began the day saying 184,000 customers still lacked power. By the end of the day, the total had climbed to 193,438.

About 185,000 Public Service Electric and Gas customers in New Jersey already lacked power before the new storm hit. The company said the storm caused an additional 60,000 power failures statewide. By evening, Jersey Central Power and Light was reporting 163,665 customers without electricity.

About 1,200 flights were canceled across the Northeast, while residents of a few areas hit hardest by Sandy last week were urged to evacuate in case of new flooding.

The gusts also threaten to turn piles of debris from Sandy into projectiles.

"One of the bigger concerns ... would be the debris that's been piled up from all the residences and the businesses," Kevin O'Hara, police chief in Point Pleasant, N.J., told The Weather Channel.

"All last winter, it was darn hard to get it to snow in New Jersey. Here we are back in early November and it snowed from the get go with this storm," David Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University, told The Star-Ledger. "That’s three straight years now we’ve seen snow in the fall, October (2010), October (2011) and now again this November. That’s pretty unusual."

"I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said, according to the Associated Press. "We may take a setback in the next 24 hours.""We're petrified," said James Alexander, a resident of the hard-hit Rockaways section of Queens. "It's like a sequel to a horror movie." Nevertheless, he said he was staying to watch over his house and his neighbors.[5:45 p.m. ET] CBS News reports that children watching television coverage of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy could cause some children who are susceptible to anxiety to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

[5:00 p.m. ET] According to NY1, 17% of new yorkers are still without power and 30% without heat and hot water. Out-of-state National Guard members have been distributing food, water, and emergency provisions to New Yorkers who were dispaced by Hurricane Sandy. Warming shelters remain open to homeless New Yorkers as freezing temperatures and a new storm has arrived. 

[3:45 p.m. ET] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a news briefing Wednesday afternoon explaining how the city is helping residents with their resources stripped by Hurricane Sandy prepare for a cold night, as a Nor'easter continues to bring wind and wet snow.

Bloomberg said that a warming center would be open until midnight in Red Hook, Brooklyn and said that electric space heaters had been distributed to those in the Rockaways who have had power restored. The mayor discussed other ways that the city, working in conjunction with FEMA and other support organizations, have distributed food, water and blankets to those displaced and cut off by the storm, but admitted that some recovery efforts were halted early on Wednesday because of the weather.  He did not explicitly confirm reports that FEMA has evacuated hard-hit areas for safety reasons due to the Nor'easter, but reiterated earlier advisories that the storm is probably not going to create anywhere near the havoc that Sandy did last week. 

[2:20 p.m. ET] As Mother Nature pounds hurricane-ravaged areas with a dismally timed Nor'easter Wednesday, residents in battered communities are facing a very human threat: Callous and dangerous looters preying on defenseless hurricane victims without power, heat, police protection or the means to escape to safer, lit areas. 

An editorial in the Staten Island Advance Wednesday warned residents of looters and urged local and state lawmakers to provide added security for the island's most vulnerable residents: "[The looters] have become so brazen in this primitive, almost post-apocalyptic setting that they’ve taken to walking onto homeowners’ property and into people’s homes even when the homeowners are present."

Though loosely organized volunteer groups from the greater New York area and beyond have been visiting hard-hit communities in the Rockaways, Staten Island, Coney Island and beyond during daylight hours, the same volunteers are insistently discouraged from heading into the same areas after dark, for fear of their safety and the frayed nerves of residents at their wit's end. 

So far, there have been no published reports of serious violence in these darkened communities during Hurricane Sandy's aftermath, but with the sun setting earlier and the weather getting colder every night, it seems almost inevitable that these devastated towns will face compounded tragedy if they do not get the help they need. 

[12:10 p.m. ET] In response to vocal social-media based complaints, the New York City MTA has restored service on the G train, a critical outer borough transit line whose absence has been doubly felt by compromised subway service on other lines throughout the city. 

The G connects Queens to south Brooklyn and is used by residents without access to direct Manhattan service to connect to trains that cross the East River.  With L train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn still suspended, residents of North Brooklyn and Queens, who fared better than many of their neighbors during Hurricane Sandy, have been left with difficult to impossible transit options as most of Manhattan service has been restored during the last several days. 

Some parents of displaced schoolchildren were forced to fend for themselves as pupils of hurricane damaged schools were relocated to alternate public schools on Wednesday, often without access to a school bus. According to a NY1 report,  promises that parents would be refunded their out-of-pocket MTA fares or given subway and bus passes have not materialized. 

[Update: 10:00]

Hostility towards marathon organizers the New York Road Runners continues, according to a New York Times article.

Much of the blame has focused on the NYRR’s CEO Mary Wittenberg, who many have attacked for her “poor handling” of the situation.

It’s also unclear how NYRR will deal with compensation for the marathon enrants, tens of thousands of whom flew from around the world to take part, or whether the television stations and corporate sponsors who also missed out will be reimbursed.

Hundreds of runners have taken to the NYRR’s Facebook page to voice their anger at the charity.

“I'd like to see a post of the financial breakdown after all costs are accounted for,” wrote Karen McConnaughy.

“It's great that NYRR is donating $1 million to relief, but is that a high enough amount, accounting for sunk costs vs. entry fees collected? There should not be profit because of others' plight.”

“Where is the leadership from Mary Wittenberg, CEO & President?” wrote Brian Bartone.

Others were more direct: “NYRR - Your rationale behind the marathon's cancellation was one of the most sanctimonious, myopic, pathetic things I've read in a very long time. You suck and you showed your true colors. Boycotting NYRR for life.”

[Update 7:50 a.m.]

After a roller-coaster election night, tens of thousands of New York and New Jersey residents are waking up to the reality of a tenth day without power or heating.

And now the beleaguered homeless, still struggling to recover from hurricane Sandy, face further misery on Wednesday as a new storm heads towards the East Coast, forcing more evacuations and the prospect of a further night shivering in the freezing dark.

"Even though it's not anywhere near as strong as Sandy — nor strong enough, in normal times, for us to evacuate anybody — out of precaution and because of the changing physical circumstances, we are going to go to some small areas and ask those people to go to higher ground," New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday, the AP reported.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in New York and New Jersey 95,000 people are eligible for housing assistance, and a further 277,000 people have registered for general assistance in the Tri-state area.

On Tuesday, New York and New Jersey ordered the evacuation of residents from some low-lying areas which were devastated by Superstorm Sandy.  

The areas in New York City where evacuation has been ordered include the Rockaways section of Queens and the south shore of Staten Island, where over 20 people were killed when Sandy hit the East Coast.

As the city prepares for winds of over 60 mph, Mayor Bloomberg has ordered the closure of all parks, playgrounds and beaches, as well as ordering all construction sites to be secured.

[Update 03:45 a.m.] Commuting between New York City and New Jersey is set to be less taxing after the reopening of the Holland Tunnel Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday evening, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the tunnel connecting the two states under the Hudson River would reopen to all commuter traffic starting at 5 a.m., according to Reuters.  

The tunnel was closed following flooding in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

An estimated 91,000 vehicles use the Holland Tunnel to commute between New York and New Jersey.

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[Update 01:45 a.m.] Did Sandy help President Obama retain office?

People might have disapproved of his handling of the economy and foreign affairs. But many of them seem to have appreciated his work in the aftermath of the natural calamity. His popularity apparently rose thanks to his handling of the crisis.

Surveys conducted a few days after the storm showed that 68 percent of people approved his handling of the crisis. But a CBS exit poll Tuesday presented another picture - 54 percent of the voters said Obama's response to Sandy had no impact on their vote while 42 percent of voters said it was a factor in their vote. 

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