Superstorm Sandy: FEMA Trailers May be Used to House Homeless

Sandy has left as many as 40,000 New Yorkers homeless.

ByABC News
November 6, 2012, 3:26 AM

Nov. 6, 2012— -- As the Northeast braces for a nor'easter in the wake of superstorm Sandy, government leaders are turning their attention to finding long-term housing for tens of thousands of people left homeless.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said trailers from FEMA might help some people, but it would be just one way victims of Sandy could find shelter. Others might move to hotels or other temporary housing.

"There are some local governments that will want trailers. Many communities on Long Island use trailers during situations like this. And they're frequently seen. So some communities, it's going to be a community by community option," Cuomo said at a Monday press conference.

There are still more than 1.4 million homes and businesses without power, more than 115,000 in New York City alone. Sandy has left as many as 40,000 New Yorkers homeless, according to city officials. About half of those people live in public housing.

FEMA has already dispensed close to $200 million in emergency housing assistance and put 34,000 people in New York and New Jersey in hotels and motels. Still, city and state officials have not laid out an official plan with specifics to move the homeless into long-term housing in an already congested area.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday the government's first priority is getting people to a warm place where they can eat a hot meal. Beyond that, the government wants to find housing as close to people's homes as possible.

"We're in the process of looking at all options for housing," she said. "Given the extent of the housing need, no option is off the table."

Compounding the immediate need for housing is a nor'easter that is expected to bring rain and high winds on Wednesday to the areas hit hard by Sandy.

"There's always a chance of there being a little snow. But right now, it looks like most of the rainfall from this system will be confined to coastal areas. We expect most of it, especially across the mid-Atlantic region that were hit by Sandy, to fall in the form of rain," Brian Korty, a forecaster at the National Weather Service, told ABC News.

The worst weather for New York City and the tri-state area will be Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening, with wind gusts along the coast near 50 mph. A storm surge of 1 to 4 feet is possible in coastal New Jersey and Long Island.

"Under normal conditions it wouldn't be that problematic. This is complicated because this is a storm that would approach before we have recovered from the first storm," Cuomo said.

The Red Cross doesn't expect the nor'easter to hurt its ability to get hot meals to victims.

"We have 5,300 Red Cross workers from all over the country who are here trying to help. And as long as it's safe to do so, volunteers will be out there," said Red Cross worker Daphne Hart.

With many huddling around fires and turning to candles for heat, authorities are urging them to get to a shelter or somewhere warm before the nor'easter.

"People are definitely concerned about the cold, they're concerned that they don't have power. So one of the things the Red Cross is doing is trying to talk to them, trying to tell them where they can get assistance. We've shipped in an additional 80,000 blankets that we're trying to distribute," Hart said.

ABC News' Max Golembo and ABC News Radio contributed to this report.