New York City grapples with recovery efforts after devastation

2012-11-01 00:41:00 GMT2012-11-01 08:41:00(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Workers in New York City have been racing against the clock fixing damaged power grids and restoring mass transit systems disrupted by devastating Hurricane Sandy so as to bring back normalcy as early as possible.

Hurricane Sandy lashed U.S. East Coast and made a landfall at New Jersey Monday evening, knocking out power for millions and killing at least 64 people, 22 of whom were in New York City, and producing a massive storm surge that caused historic flooding in some of subway tunnels in lower Manhattan, which led to a suspension of service to the entire subway systems in NYC.

As Sandy faded further inland, bus and bridge services in New York City were resumed late Tuesday, but road congestion was ubiquitous in every street of Manhattan, one of NYC's five boroughs, because of a loss of subway service across NYC.

One of the residents told Xinhua that she and his husband had been trapped in their apartment in lower Manhattan suffering from power outage and a shortage of water supply in their residence for two consecutive days.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called for patience and tolerance because of the current traffic conditions.

Cuomo said in a briefing early in the day that starting Thursday, the city's subway systems will resume partial service from 42nd street of Manhattan and upward, but subway service below that street remains suspended.

"In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now," MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in his statement. "All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal."

According to the New York State governor, limited commuter rail service on the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North railroad resumed at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

An evacuation order for 375,000 New Yorkers in low-lying areas remained in effect and all 76 shelters will remain open, said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference held Wednesday. He also announced that effective Thursday morning there will be restrictions on cars entering Manhattan.

The mayor said the cars must have three or more passengers to enter Manhattan. "I know it is inconvenient for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much."

Two of New York City's three major airports reopened Wednesday, with flights slowly resuming at John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International. LaGuardia Airport, however, is still closed.

On Wednesday, financial markets reopened and some New York residents started to return to work.

Despite the devastation caused in New York by Hurricane Sandy, the New York Marathon will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday.

"Some people said, 'You shouldn't run the marathon.' There's an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people," said Bloomberg. "We have to have an economy. There are lots of people that have come here, it's a great event for New York."

Nearly 20,000 amateur international runners were scheduled to fly in for the race. The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids the areas hardest hit by flooding. Organizers say they were expecting nearly 50,000 runners before the superstorm hit. For the time being, however, they have no idea how many runners will actually make it to the race.

Superstorm Sandy caused serious water logging to the UN Security Council chamber, forcing it to move to a temporary base for a special meeting on Wednesday, diplomats said.

The meeting, which should have been held earlier this week because the mandate was scheduled to end Wednesday, was forced to be canceled due to Sandy. The UN headquarters, which has been closed since the superstorm struck Monday, will be reopen Thursday.

Mayor Bloomberg also announced Wednesday that all New York City public schools would remain closed through Friday.

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