NEW YORK—Just nine days after Superstorm Sandy hit, the city faces more hazardous weather with the season’s first nor’easter expected to hit the area Wednesday, bringing high winds and a mix of wet snow and rain.
The National Weather Service issued a high winds watch and a coastal flood watch from Wednesday morning through late Wednesday night.
“Keep in mind these are forecasts, and as we know forecasts change as you get closer to the event,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an update Tuesday from City Hall.
Storm surges of 2 feet to 4.5 feet are expected. Bloomberg said there will be no mandatory evacuations but some particularly low-lying areas will likely flood.
Temperatures are projected to drop down into the 20s and 30s at night.
The storm comes a little more than a week after Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the city’s southern coastal areas. Recovery efforts there are still underway.
An inch of rainfall Wednesday could mix with sleet. “We could have some snow on the ground and certainly some snow on the trees,” said Bloomberg. “That makes trees that already have their base flooded more likely to fall over, and that’s something we’re really going to worry about.”
More than 200 warming centers are open around the city. The elderly and those with young children are encouraged to take advantage of them. The state has pre-placed search and rescue teams in areas already affected and most prone to impact, according to Howard Glaser, director of state operations.
Meanwhile, 91,000 people were still without power across the city as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, down from 115,000 a day before.
Bloomberg said for about 35 percent of the 91,000, “The problems are with the buildings they’re in, not with the utility company.”
“So even if power comes back to the area where your building is, work will have to be done in these buildings before the lights go on,” he added.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a separate press conference that 350,000 New Yorkers statewide are still without power.
“We’re going to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week until it’s restored,” said Cuomo, who added he’s not pleased with the preparation and response from utility providers, which include Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).
Con Edison said in its own storm update that thousands of outside workers—coming from as far away as California—are working with Con Edison crews around the clock to restore power. The utility company is also preparing for the new storm.
“The coming storm is expected to pack rain and heavy winds,” Con Edison states in an online release. “Those winds could topple trees into overhead power lines, causing customers to lose electricity. The conditions could also cause a delay in the utility’s restoration of customers out of service due to Hurricane Sandy.”
LIPA said on its website that it has restored power to more than 700,000 customers as of late Monday, and it is focusing on areas where it can restore power to the most customers.
Gas shortages persist. Cuomo said “panic buying has compounded the problem,” referring to people who usually drive around on half a tank now going to a gas station much quicker. Bloomberg echoed Cuomo’s sentiments, adding that the city is investigating the situation.
The impact of Superstorm Sandy is still being felt in New York City. The mayor said they’re working on getting electricity and heat for public housing buildings—affecting about 20,000 people—and getting electricity again to other housing as soon as possible, before looking for alternative housing.
Also, the list of 57 schools that had so much structural damage that they aren’t opening on Wednesday has been reduced to 47, according to the mayor.
And the city is working on collecting all the clothing donated around the city that is outside at different cleanup sites and delivering it to Salvation Army locations near affected areas, partly because the new storm would get all the clothes wet.
It’s also a balancing process. “Some places we have too much and some places we have too little,” said Bloomberg. He said donations are being accepted and the best donations are cash (to the Mayor’s Fund for New York City) “because we can buy people the things we need.”
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