Superstorm Sandy: Struggling to Recover, New York Faces 'Massive' Housing Problem as New Storm Looms

Residents in the storm-ravaged area are cold, hungry and looking for answers.

ByABC News
November 5, 2012, 1:09 PM

Nov. 5, 2012 — -- Electric power is slowly coming back to New York's neighborhoods and parts of New Jersey, but many residents in the storm-ravaged area are still cold, hungry and looking for answers as they enter their second week post-Sandy and brace for a nor'easter set to hit the region this week.

"This is going to be a massive, massive housing problem," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference Sunday, adding that some New York neighborhoods and buildings are in such bad shape that they won't have power for weeks or months.

The superstorm Sandy death toll now stands at 49 in New York, with 41 of those deaths in New York City. A total of 24 deaths were caused by Sandy in New Jersey, and five people were killed in Connecticut.

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Frustration among residents is rising as 1.4 million tri-state area homes are entering their second week without electric power. New Jersey still has 780,000 outages, and New York has 540,000 without power.

In Staten Island, N.Y., many of the lights are now back on, but some areas by water's edge in the NYC borough remain completely dark. Many homes in the area are uninhabitable.

Laura, who lives in the Tottenville section of Staten Island, told ABC News that her house is standing, but barely, and that she has been sleeping in the car outside trying to keep her emotions in check.

"[I'm] trying to clean up, trying to understand what are the next steps," she said.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 runners who were in New York for the ING New York City Marathon, which was abruptly canceled late Friday afternoon, volunteered their time Sunday, handing out toothbrushes, batteries, sweatshirts and other supplies across Staten Island, WABC-TV reported.

In Rockaway Beach in Queens, N.Y., residents displaced from their homes because of flooding caused by Sandy are desperate for supplies such as water, generators to pump out the flood waters, flashlights and batteries, and cleaning supplies.

Across Manhattan and Brooklyn, thousands of commuters finally headed back to work today as a sizable portion of the city's subways began running under the East River. Many subway lines still are operating with no or slow service as water-logged tunnels are cleared out, creating a headache for thousands of commuters. All subway lines except the G train, which runs from Queens to Brooklyn, are now running to some extent, according to the MTA website.

Most students across New York City headed back to the classroom this morning as public schools reopened; a total of 65 city schools will not be open today.

A persistent shortage of gas has been a major factor across the tri-state area since Sandy hit, with people lining up for hours to fill their gas tanks or top off canisters to bring back to gas-run generators providing power at their homes.

"It feels like the apocalypse," New Jersey resident Jessica Ince, who waited several hours to fill up a gas can to have power at her home, told ABC News.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has now set up 10 mobile gas distribution sites, some of which are for first responders to get gas, but others are for residents to fill up.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that mobile medical vans staffed with primary care providers -- who will be able to provide medical care and distribute commonly prescribed drugs -- are now at several of the city's Disaster Assistance Service Centers in the Rockaways and at Coney Island.

As the city and region slowly get back to normal, a second storm is threatening the area. Cold air will drop in to the Northeast corridor in the next three days, bringing wind chills down to 33 degrees to areas that were severely affected by Sandy.

Gusts of wind up to 55 mph are likely to reach the region by Wednesday.