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The MTA has begun offering limited bus and commuter rail service as Consolidated Edison crews work around the clock to restore power to areas of the city affected by Monday's devastating storm.
Limited subway service is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. Thursday.
In a Thursday night press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has declared a transportation emergency. Fares for commuter rails, subways and buses will be waived Thursday and Friday.
More than 560,000 customers in New York City are still without electrical power and Mayor Michael Bloomberg says there are about 30 deaths in the city resulting from the storm.
However, Con Ed marked Wednesday with the restoration of two power networks, one in a part of Lower Manhattan and another in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
"I think that the best we could do for those who did die is to make sure this city recovers and comes out of this and builds a better life for those that the deceased left behind," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Wednesday. "That's the best thing we can do, and in many senses the only thing we can do."
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared a public health emergency Wednesday for New York in the aftermath of Sandy.
The HHS says that nine disaster medical assistance teams, a team of U.S. Public Health Service officers and caches of medical supplies are beginning to provide care in shelters in the New York City area Wednesday. Additional teams and Federal Medical Stations are en route to New York at the state’s request to support medical needs in New York City, according to the HHS.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster exists in New York, making federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens. Governor Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, requested the maximum percentage of federal aid to repair the damage from the storm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security will help oversee recovery operations in affected areas.
FEMA says residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.
HOV Vehicle Rules For City Bridges
In an effort to reduce resulting traffic congestion, Bloomberg has announced High Occupancy Vehicle restrictions on all four East River bridges and major roadways on Thursday and Friday.
From 6 a.m. until midnight on Thursday and Friday, vehicles traveling into Manhattan must have at least three occupants.
Bloomberg says the governor will extend the measure to include the Robert F. Kennedy-Triborough and Henry Hudson bridges as well as the Lincoln Tunnel.
Only the George Washington Bridge is exempt from these restrictions.
Mass Transit Slowly Reopens
During a noon briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota announced starting at 2 p.m. limited service resumed on Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road.
"Our goal is to, every day, get the service back to normal, back to the situation we were used to last week. And if not, even better," said Lhota.
Limited subway service will also begin at around 6 a.m. Thursday. View a full list here.
The limited service between Brooklyn to Manhattan will be supplemented by a “bus bridge,” MTA officials say. The subway service on Manhattan's East Side will terminate at Grand Central-42nd Street while service on the West Side will end at 34th Street.
The 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, A, D, F, J, L, M, N, R and Times Square shuttle lines will offer limited service.
The governor says three of the seven tunnels used by the MTA are free of water after being pumped out.
He says more service will come back online on a "day-by-day" basis.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he is also working with the MTA to establish bus lanes on key corridors.
The MTA on Wednesday began running buses on the weekday-school closed schedule with reroutes to avoid debris, downed trees and other conditions from the storm.
The MTA re-routed southbound buses in part of Manhattan along Third Avenue early Wednesday evening.
The agency stopped running buses south of 23rd Street in Manhattan shortly after 8:30 p.m. due to "dangerous conditions," but normal service will resume at daylight Thursday.
There are some changes to service in areas battered by Sandy, including the Rockaways in Queens, Manhattan Beach and Sea Gate and Brooklyn, and along Father Capodanno Boulevard on Staten Island.
Express buses are using streets instead of flooded tunnels, which is creating a slowdown.
The agency says Sandy was the most devastating disaster in its 108-year history.
Video from the South Ferry-Whitehall Street Station in Lower Manhattan shows water levels all the way up to the platform.
Once the water is cleared from MTA tunnels and stations, workers will walk hundreds of miles of track to inspect the system.
Two of four East River tunnels owned by Amtrak were flooded from the Queens side, according to the MTA, and Amtrak officials are pumping water from those tunnels.
According to the MTA, a specially-designed water dam was deployed to prevent Hudson River flood waters from reaching Penn Station tracks and the East River tunnels. The storm surge overrode part of the dam and flooded North River Amtrak tunnels.
The Staten Island Ferry remains suspended, as is PATH service and New Jersey Transit service.
NY Waterway will resume some ferry and bus service Wednesday. Service will run between Port Imperial and Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken and between 14th Street in Hoboken and West 39th Street in Manhattan from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Other NY Waterway routes that will run Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. include routes from Paulus Hook in Jersey City to the World Financial Center in Lower Manhattan and from Paulus Hook and Newport to West 39th Street.
Amtrak says it will provide modified Northeast Regional service from Newark to points south Wednesday, but does not have an estimate for when service can be restored to Penn Station. As a result, Northeast Regional service from Newark to Boston will be canceled Wednesday, as will Acela Express service for the entire Northeast corridor.
While the MTA struggles to restore mass transit service, the Taxi and Limousine Commission is allowing ride sharing in cabs to help people get where they’re going.
These are the rules:
- Taxi drivers can pick up additional passengers even while someone is already in the cab.
- The person or people who got in first will pay the fare on the meter at the end of the ride, even if the taxi detours to drop off the extra passenger or passengers.
- The additional pickup will have to negotiate their fare with the driver, who has to say upfront what he or she wants.
- The TLC recommends a fare of $10 for each additional passenger who joins a trip already underway.
Livery cabs, black cars and luxury limousines will be allowed to pick up street hails anywhere in the city for now. The driver has to quote the fare upfront, although it’s open to negotiation.
The TLC is recommending a fare of $15 for trips within Manhattan above or below 96th Street or within another borough, and $25 for trips crossing 96th Street in Manhattan or crossing from one borough to another.
Alternate-side parking and meter regulations are suspended citywide Tuesday and Wednesday, and garbage pick-up is currently suspended.
Con Ed Power Outages, Ice Distribution
Meanwhile, Consolidated Edison says it has restored two power networks, but there are still more than 560,000 customers without power throughout the five boroughs.
Monday's substation fire on East 14th Street has still left hundreds of thousands of customers in the dark in Manhattan from the southern tip up to West 30th Street on the west side to East 39th Street on the east side.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday Consolidated Edison started distributing dry and wet ice to customers without power at the following locations:
Dry ice is being distributed at 1200 Waters Place at the entrance to the Hutchinson Metro Center.
Dry ice is being distributed at Walgreen’s, 532 Neptune Ave. (between West 5th & 6th Streets).
Wet ice is being distributed at Union Square Park, Union Square East and East 17th Street.
Dry ice is being distributed at 121-10 Rockaway Blvd.
Dry ice is being distributed at the entrance to Great Kills Park on Buffalo Street.
Con Ed officials say this afternoon they its network in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, hours after the utility also restored the Cortlandt network this morning, which serves about 2,000 customers in Lower Manhattan from the southern tip to West Street.
Con Ed officials say the affected areas of Manhattan could be without power for another three days.
Customers with overhead wires in the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and parts of Brooklyn may be looking at a week to 10 days.
As of 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, the utility was reporting 40,965 customer outages in the Bronx; 77,837 in Brooklyn; 112,150 in Queens; 227,563 in Manhattan; and 107,731 on Staten Island. Because each customer represents a household, building or business, the total number of affected people is much higher.
At one point Tuesday night, there were more than 650,000 customers without power across the city.
Con Ed said in a statement Tuesday night that they were forced to cut power to 160,000 customers in southern Brooklyn and central Staten Island due to transmission problems.
Customers affected by that latest outage include residents of Gerritsen Beach, Marine Park, Midwood, East Flatbush and Flatbush in Brooklyn, and Tottenville, Annadale, Eltingville, Great Kills, Dongan Hills and Westerleigh on Staten Island.
Voltage was also reduced by 8 percent for customers in the Ocean Parkway, Flatbush, Bay Ridge, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Borough Park, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst areas, according to Con Ed.
There are 59 New York City Housing Authority developments without power, and most of them are in the city's low-lying Zone A.
However, Bloomberg said that Con Ed has already brought three Staten Island substations back online to help restore power to that borough. He added that Con Ed was bringing in utility employees from other states to help with the repair efforts.
Con Ed officials continue to request that residents avoid downed power lines in their area.
To report a power outage, call 1-800-75-ConEd or log on to coned.com.
Rescue & Recovery
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday there were about 30 known deaths resulting from the storm.
He also said the storm caused 23 serious fires, including one in Breezy Point that destroyed between 80 and 100 houses.
First responders are still carrying out search and rescue missions in some of the areas of the city hardest hit by the storm surge.
Of the roughly 30 deaths confirmed by the mayor on Wednesday, details were released about three deaths in Queens, five deaths in Staten Island and a death in Manhattan.
Bloomberg said one man in Queens was struck and killed by a tree as he slept inside his home just before 7:30 p.m. Monday night.
At least nine people were reported dead on Staten Island, including an off-duty police officer who died shortly after rescuing his family from rising waters in his South Beach home. The bodies of a father and son were also found in the ruins of a house at Oakwood Beach.
The most severe damage from the storm is being reported in and around the city's low-lying areas, especially the Rockaways and on Staten Island.
Bloomberg says the city's 76 shelters remain open.
He said that Zone A residents who evacuated will only be allowed to return to their homes once they are deemed secure by officials from the Department of Buildings.
The Department of Environmental Protection says the city's water supply is safe to drink, and that extra chlorine has been added to the water.
However, the city Department of Health says that New Yorkers should avoid swimming, boating or coming into direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Kull until further notice.
Bloomberg said Wednesday's Village Halloween Parade, which was originally reported to be cancelled, would be postponed until next week if the city can make the necessary arrangements.
City parks are also closed until further notice. Check out other Wednesday closures and cancelations.
Sources tell NY1 that about 350 patients are being evacuated from Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan to other hospitals around town, as an outage resulting from Sandy left many of the hospital's hallways and rooms in the dark and knocked out key medical equipment.
Sources say the Bellevue evacuation could take days.
Among the storm's effects, Bloomberg said that the backup power at NYU Langone Medical center had failed and that 215 patients were successfully moved to nearby facilities late Monday.
In a Wednesday statement, NYU Langone Medical officials said it was too early to tell when they could offer in-patient services but off-site medical offices are expected to open on Monday.
New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation officials said that Coney Island Hospital had no power as of 1:30 a.m. Tuesday but was not evacuating because critical patients were moved out before the storm.
The Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough), Verrazano-Narrows, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Henry Hudson Bridges reopened at noon Tuesday.
The Outerbridge Crossing, George Washington, Goethals and Bayonne bridges and all East River Bridges are open. All East River Bridges are also open to traffic.
The Lincoln Tunnel is open.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced at around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday that the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge is open. The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge remains closed.
The Hugh Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel, Holland Tunnel and Queens Midtown Tunnel remain closed.
Lhota said in a statement Tuesday night that the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is filled with 43 million gallons of water.
John F. Kennedy and Newark Airports are back open, but airlines are only providing limited service.
Port Authority officials say service will pick up as the day goes on.
Passengers should check with their carrier before heading out the door.
LaGuardia Airport, which was hit hardest by the storm, will reopen at 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the Port Authority.
At one point, LaGuardia runways were under several feet of water.
"The primary thing is is once it is safe we will open it again. I think that timetables right now are sort of, it's, we don't have an exact timetable. The goal is as soon as it's safe and as quickly as possible we'll get it open," said Port Authority Representative Anthony Hayes.
Rail service on AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark has been suspended until further notice.