It has been a difficult few weeks for New York, to say the least, and that goes for the two men at the center of the recovery, too, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Both men have worked tirelessly for the past 25 days, first preparing the city and the state for the approaching superstorm, and then helping everyone recover from the disaster. That job will continue for months, even years, but at the same time, life must go on. And for the chief executives of New York City and New York State, that process has slowly begun. And it all started today. Or so their public schedules would suggest.
The public schedule for the mayor and the governor is a sacred text, at least in news rooms across the city. Like the AP daybook, it is the document by which reporters set their clocks and live their lives. Normally, there is a mix of big announcements—a new budget, a new anti-poverty initiative, a ribbon cutting for a new park—and small appearances—a parade, a gala, a public policy conference.
Even before Hurricane Sandy made landfall, as the mayor and governor scrambled to prepare New Yorkers for the oncoming storm, there has been none of that, and certainly nothing since. It has been all Sandy, all the time.
Hurricane Sandy turned Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village into hell in Manhattan for almost a week after the power went out. Sure, much of downtown was a disaster zone, to say nothing of the devastation in the outer boroughs, but Stuy Town had some particular, peculiar problems. Most notably, all the hallways are interior, with no windows, so it was impossible to get around. What’s worse, the locks on all the doors are electronic, so anyone could have been lurking in the darkness.
Fortunately, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have returned to a sense of normalcy now that the power is back, as the management has been detailing in a serious of lengthy email updates to residents. Unfortunately, one of the things tenants might have hoped Superstorm Sandy would have washed away is still coming: the ice rink.
Many New York City drivers were hoping that gas rationing might be over today, as it has already expired in New Jersey and out on Long Island following the fuel crisis sparked by Hurricane Sandy. But the Bloomberg administration has decided to extend the odd-even rationing system through Friday.
“The odd-even license plate system has worked well and helped to reduce wait times and lines at the pump,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a release. “With 30 percent of gas stations still closed and a major travel week coming, I am extending the successful odd-even system on gas and diesel fuel purchases to ensure we do not risk going back to the extreme lines we saw prior to the system being implemented.”
The rationing plan was set to expire today, but with the city only at two-thirds capacity, the administration believes it is better to keep the rationing in place, even if it inconveniences drivers.
While much of Manhattan is thrumming along almost as though Sandy never happened, pockets of the borough have remained without electricity and heat. Among them: Knickerbocker Village, the 1,600-unit affordable housing complex at Monroe and Cherry streets, whose residents have become increasingly disgruntled as the cold, dark days drag on.
Today, there’s some good news at least. The building management announced that by 4 p.m. power had finally been restored to the entire building. Or at least, basically the entire building. Anticipating angry calls from almost-dead cell phones, their release warned that it was conceivable “that a small handful of units might be without power” because some units may, inadvertently, have “not been plugged into the main circuit.”
Want to pitch in on the Sandy recovery and get in touch with your design-y, wonk-y self? Then head over to the Center for Architecture in the Village tonight, where Michael Kimmelman will host a panel of experts to debate the future of the city after Superstorm Sandy. The event is free, but there is a suggested donation of $10. All proceeds will go to the Mayor’s Fund for New York, which has been raising money since the storm hit to help with the recovery effort. Full details below.
Hurricane Sandy has been something of a catastrophe for New Yorkers, but opportunistic celebrities (who, like, totally LOVE charity) have been popping up all over the state to get involved with the relief efforts. It would appear that other causes are very much out this season now that superstorm victims are in, so take a Read More
Planes Trains & Automobiles
Last night, the MTA posted a video of the cleanup effort going on inside the Hugh Carey Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which had reopened just the day before after a monstrous flood.
It is a burgeoning genre, after the MTA gave the L train tubes the same treatment—not every effort got a star turn, just the slow ones, as though to say, “Look, we’re workin’ on it.” That and the jaw-dropping ones, like flooding inside the (still-closed) South Ferry subway station (and the cleanup).
As we sloshed, caked with snow flurries, into the Mandarin Oriental for the 2012 Phoenix House Fashion award dinner last Wednesday evening, we couldn’t determine whether it was the way-too-early winter outside, the Sandy-forced relocation or the early start after an endless election season, but at first glance, things looked a bit quiet. (In retrospect, we appreciated the venue upgrade, considering it was originally slated to take place at Pier 60.)
“Well there’s Linda Fargo, at least …” we uttered to a weary-eyed publicist as she sashayed passed us in a crisp black sheath dress, before we sauntered downstairs to cocktail hour.
Below, on the 35th floor, the considerably more lively and notable fashion crowd imbibed, heedless of the blizzard-like winds that howled without mercy on the commoners struggling to get around Columbus Circle.
With the exception of Glenda Bailey, this didn’t feel like a typical fashion event; nay, it was considerably more corporate—a bit cliquey, but not necessarily in a bad way. Dashing executives (well mostly dashing) in flamboyant tailored suits sipped scotch and red wine, while a more demure population of women squawked about recent highs and lows.
“Millions of New Yorkers have stories” from the hurricane, Council Speaker Christine Quinn declared this morning during a soaring, post-Sandy speech at the Association for a Better New York. Among those stories was Ms. Quinn’s own.
It was an emotional moment that came during what was otherwise a wonky, if powerful, policy-laden address to the city’s business leaders during which the council speaker (and presumptive mayoral candidate) called for at least $20 billion in new infrastructure across the five boroughs to protect against future disasters. The story, from the summers of Ms. Quinn’s youth, underscored her belief that the city must seize upon this disaster to create a stronger (or at least drier) future.
“My grandfather came over on a boat from Ireland with a third grade education and worked his way up through the ranks of the Fire Department,” Ms. Quinn explained. “Rockaway Beach offered him a chance to rent a bungalow in the summer, to afford a little place on the ocean just like the rich people he saw in the magazines. It was his own piece of the American Dream.”
At the outset of the third week since Hurricane Sandy hit, it has become clear that normal in some corners of the city will be a long time coming. From the beginning, it was obvious that rebuilding the homes that burned in Breezy Point, or were washed away by surging sea water in Staten Island, would take many months. But now a number of other New Yorkers, who had expected power, heat and electricity to be restored in a matter of days, are still living without.
City, state and national officials are scrambling to find short- and long-term housing for the many New Yorkers displaced by the storm, begging landlords to help them identify vacant apartments, reports The New York Times.