Superstorm Sandy update: Falling temperatures add urgency to recovery.
Falling temperatures on Sunday put more people at risk in a region already battling gasoline shortages, stubborn power outages, and spasms of lawlessness in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Falling temperatures on Sunday put more people at risk in a region already battling gasoline shortages, stubborn power outages, and spasms of lawlessness in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm
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With overnight temperatures in the 30s and nearly a million people still without power in the area, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was reluctant to plunge back into Friday's controversy over the last-minute cancellation of the New York City Marathon. While disappointed runners were planning to stage impromptu races of their own, Bloomberg put off questions about the marathon at a Saturday briefing and focused on what he said were more pressing matters.
"I spoke with many people who were worried and frustrated and cold," Bloomberg said after a visit to the Rockaways in Queens. "There is no power there and temperatures are dropping. Even those who have generators are having a hard time getting fuel."
IN PICTURES: Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm
The city opened warming shelters in areas without power and Bloomberg was urging older residents without heat to move to them. The city also was handing out 25,000 blankets to residents who insist on staying in powerless homes.
"So please," Bloomberg said, "I know sometimes people are reticent to take advantage of services. The cold really is something that is dangerous."
Though New York and New Jersey bore the brunt of the destruction, at its peak, the storm reached 1,000 miles across, killed more than 100 people in 10 states, knocked out power to 8.5 million and canceled nearly 20,000 flights. More than 12 inches of rain fell in Easton, Md., and 34 inches of snow fell in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Property losses were estimated at at least $20 billion, putting the storm among the most expensive disasters in the U.S.
Among the biggest lingering challenges Saturday was the gas shortage. Bloomberg said that resolving it could take days. Lines curled around gas stations for many blocks all over the stricken region, including northern New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie imposed rationing that recalled the worst days of fuel shortages of the 1970s. Queues of honking cars, frustrated drivers and people on foot carrying containers were just the latest testament to the misery unleashed by Sandy.
"It's chaos; it's pandemonium out here," said Chris Damon, who had been waiting for 3½ hours at a site where the National Guard was giving out free gas in an effort to alleviate the situation. "It seems like nobody has any answers."