May 24, 2013
Frazzled New Yorkers fret about long road back to normalcy
New York authorities have made a big push for normalcy after megastorm Sandy, but for many residents dealing with water-logged homes, power outages, gasoline shortages and painfully slow commutes, things are far from that.
Officials have moved quickly to try to jump-start business and tourism after the storm. The New York Stock Exchange reopened after a historic two-day closure, with a smiling Mayor Michael Bloomberg ringing the opening bell. The subways began to rumble with limited service on Thursday. Broadway theater is back. And the mayor has declared the New York Marathon will go on as scheduled on Sunday, despite calls by many to postpone it.
Still, inconveniences are mounting for many people, and news that some could have to wait more than another week for their power to be restored by Consolidated Edison Inc added to the misery. Anxiety is also rising as a fuel shortage left many without gasoline, leading to tense scenes and police patrols at gas stations throughout the region.
A rising death toll from the storm has also been unsettling for many - it has now reached at least 97 across the US Northeast, with 39 of those in New York City. Officials said that it was likely to climb further as rescuers searched house-to-house in coastal towns.
Concern about crime is growing.
Viktoria Altman, 33, whose home in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn was flooded by the storm, said she was frustrated that there was little police presence in her neighborhood. The area has had widespread power outages.
She said she was concerned about accidents on streets where stoplights have been knocked out, saying drivers have been "flying through the intersections." She also said she worried that homes in the darkened area could be a target for criminals.
"It feels like we've been abandoned here by the powers that be," said Altman, who runs a children's tutoring center.
The New York Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
There have been some arrests for storm-related crime. More than 15 people in Queens have been charged with looting and one man was charged with threatening another driver with a gun as he tried to cut in on a line of cars waiting for gas, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Tara Hohenberger, who has been without power for days in the East Village of Manhattan, said her neighborhood feels "a little tense" and she wished there was a bigger police presence.
"I walked home from 91st Street last night and it's scary once you get below the black-out zone," she said.