New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday that Superstorm Sandy has left between 30,000 to 40,000 New Yorkers without homes, although that number could drop to around 20,000 in the coming weeks as electricity is restored.
Around 140,000 New York residences remain without power, a situation that is expected to be compounded as temperatures are expected to drop in the coming days.
Upon that backdrop, Bloomberg is telling New Yorkers that if they see people shivering in the cold to find them a blanket or a hot water bottle. “You can die from being cold,” Bloomberg said.
Mirroring Bloomberg’s comments, U.S. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano said Sunday the focus on recovery has shifted to getting victims out of shelters and into temporary housing.
Additionally, Bloomberg noted that around 20,000 of the New Yorkers who are without electricity are in public housing projects where sand and water got into the boilers and the whole electrical system has been destroyed and will take a long time to repair.
Sunday night will be the second consecutive evening of cold weather, increasing risk of hypothermia, the Mayor’s office noted, adding that anyone who needs heat should find warm shelter, whether at City facilities or with a friend or relative.
Early signs of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, confusion or sleepiness, slowed or slurred speech, stiffness in arms and legs, poor control over body movements and slow reaction.
Additionally, the Mayor’s office warned those who are using generators in their homes to run their heat that they should be very careful to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by never using portable generators indoors, in garages or near open windows.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate met Sunday at a Unified Command Meeting with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, county executives, and other state and local leaders to reiterate that FEMA and the entire federal family are committed to bringing all the needed resources to support New York in its continued response to this disaster.
The group also discussed challenges ahead for the longer term recovery efforts.
More than 182,000 people have registered with FEMA and over $158 million has been approved.
Napolitano today traveled to New Jersey where she met with state and local officials, first responders and volunteers to discuss ongoing response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Sandy.
Secretary Napolitano reiterated the ongoing support of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the rest of the federal family as local communities continue to respond to and recover from the storm.
“Across New Jersey and all the impacted states, we are continuing to deploy people, assets, and resources in response to this storm,” said Napolitano. “The federal government, including FEMA and all of DHS, is here to support this recovery and we are going to stand together with you, make sure resources are getting to you, and continue to help you recover from this devastating storm.”
In Monmouth County, N.J., Napolitano visited a shelter at Monmouth University and the FEMA Emergency Operations Center and Point of Distribution (POD) site at the Holy Family School where she met with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone and Rush Holt, Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith and other state and local officials to view response and recovery efforts.