Little more than a week after Sandy slammed the tri-state, displacing tens of thousands of people from their homes, the city isn’t ruling out any options for housing storm refugees, including hotel rooms or cash for people to make their own arrangements.
Mayor Bloomberg on Monday announced he has appointed a former OEM and FEMA official to come up with a plan.
Bloomberg said 30,000 to 40,000 New Yorkers may need to be relocated — a monumental task in a city where housing is scarce and expensive — though he said that number would probably drop to 20,000 within a couple of weeks as power is restored in more places.
Brad Gair, a former OEM deputy commissioner and federal coordinating officer from FEMA, will coordinate the plan to relocate them.
After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita smashed the Gulf Coast in 2005, hundreds of thousands of victims were put up by FEMA in trailers, hotels, cruise ships and apartments across several states for months and even years.
Gair said his first objective is to figure out the demand — who needs help and how long will they need it. The next order of business, he said, is to find the solution. The range of options is “very wide,” from hotels to cash from the federal government for people to secure their own housing.
“Everything will be on the table to start,” he said.
Power has been restored to nearly 87 percent of customers who were blacked out in the storm in New York, but efforts to get everyone back on line could be hampered by more wet, windy weather on the way this week.
As temperatures sink into the 30s at night, Bloomberg said residents in public housing are a top concern; some 21,000 people have no electricity and 35,000 have no heat and hot water.
Across New York City, about 127,000 customers were still without power, down from an estimated 960,000 initially affected.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo railed against the utility companies tasked with bringing power back to communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.
At a Monday afternoon news conference, he said that saying he was “angry, frustrated, disappointed would be the understatement of the decade.”
He said it is understandable that getting the power back on takes time. However, he said the utilities were not communicating with residents who were depending on them to get their lives back to normal.
Sandy, which killed more than 70 people in the tri-state, also created a fuel shortage that has forced New Jersey to enforce odd-even rationing for motorists. But there was no rationing in New York City, where the search for gas became a maddening scavenger hunt in recent days.
Bloomberg said a police officer has been posted at each gas station open in the city to keep the peace.
Source: NBC 4 NY