Screams of Joy as Power Restored to Sandy's Hard Hit Victims

A flotilla of barges bringing gasoline to Sandy's victims.

November 2, 2012, 2:16 AM

Nov. 2, 2012— -- Screams of joy erupted through the canyons of lower Manhattan today when the lights came back on through a large section of the city, four days after Sandy's flood waters knocked out power to the city's financial district.

The power surge will allow greater movement of the city's crippled subway system and was a major step in the recovery from the killer storm, whose death toll had topped 90, according to the Associated Press.

When traffic lights came on, screams of joy could be heard in Soho, Chelsea and other Manhattan neighborhoods that have had to go without heat, light, elevators and restaurants since Monday.

Increasingly impatient Sandy survivors got another glimmer of hope when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that a flotilla of ships and barges began unloading gasoline in an effort to reduce long lines of gas-desperate motorists.

"The issue of gasoline has created concern and anxiety and practical problems all throughout the region," Cuomo said at a news conference today. "People can't get gas. It's slowed down the delivery of service, it's increased the stress level all across the region."

Hurricane Sandy: Full Coverage

Some gas stations in New York and hard hit New Jersey have fuel in the ground, but are unable to pump it without power. Others have power but have no gas due to shortages and difficulties in transporting the fuel.

At the gas stations that do have power, police have been keeping order at hours-long lines, but the fight for fuel has been getting nasty. Authorities say a motorist was arrested after he tried to cut in line at a gas station in Queens Thursday and allegedly pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained, according to the Associated Press.

The man was identified as Sean Bailey, 35, and he faces charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

Cuomo said that debris in New York's harbor, much of it ship containers blown into the water and lurking below the surface, had posed a threat to navigation until they were cleaned up. The port was reopened Thursday.

In addition, Sandy's flooding damaged some pumping equipment used to move the gas.

"There should be a real change in conditions and people should see it quickly," Cuomo said.

Despite the good news, millions still shivered in dark and unheated homes. Their anger forced New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cancel Sunday's New York City Marathon after city officials and those suffering from Sandy's wrath argued that the marathon would detract from recovery efforts.

Those still waiting for electricity were further daunted by the news that temperatures are expected to dip into the 30s this weekend with a possible Nor'easter on the way.

Some parts of the region hammered by Sandy feel they have been left behind in the rush to restore power to Manhattan.

Staten Island was one of the hardest-hit communities in New York City. More than 80,000 residents are still without power, many are homeless, and at least 19 people died there because of the storm.

Cheers For Power and a Flotilla of Gas Barges

Four days after the storm, supplies are finally making their way to the borough and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro is boiling over in anger at what he sees as a slow relief effort.

"This is America, not a third world nation. We need food, we need clothing," Molinaro said.

Staten Island resident Desi Caruso told ABC News said Sandy has destroyed his neighborhood.

"This neighborhood, we are close. We like each other and now all of our lives here are going to separate and we're going to be broken apart," Caruso said.

Photos: Assessing Sandy's Destruction

Caruso, a music producer who has lived in Staten Island for 20 years, plans to move because the risk of another storm causing massive damage is too great.

Some on the New Jersey coastline were hit just as hard as Staten Island residents and they were allowed back into their communities Thursday to get their first look at the devastation.

"That's it. I have nothing. I can't get to my job. I had two cars down there because we thought they'd be safe. They're gone," Marianne Russell, of Moonachie, N.J., told WABC.

"A lot of tears are being shed today," said Dennis Cucci, whose home near the ocean in Point Pleasant Beach was heavily damaged. "It's absolutely mind-boggling."

Bloomberg said the main concern now is over the elderly and poor all but trapped on upper floors of housing complexes in the powerless buildings.

"Our problem is making sure they know that food is available," Bloomberg said Thursday, as officials expressed concern about people having to haul water from fire hydrants up darkened flights of stairs.

Before power was restored today, Mary Wilson, 75, walked downstairs from her 19th floor of her Chelsea apartment for the first time Thursday because she ran out of bottled water and felt she was going to faint. She said she met people on the stairs who helped her down.

"I did a lot of praying: 'Help me to get to the main floor.' Now I've got to pray to get to the top," she said, after buying water from a convenience store. "I said, 'I'll go down today or they'll find me dead," she added.

As essentials dwindle in powerless areas, reports of looting have occurred. Early Thursday morning 18 individuals were arrested for burglary of a Key Food in Coney Island, according to police.

In Far Rockaway, Queens, four arrests were made Thursday stemming from the entry of a closed Radio Shack.

ABC News' Alexis Shaw, Jennifer Abbey, ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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