A storm from the tropics blew through town last week. It left wintry weather in its wake, along with a path of destruction that has left as many as 40,000 New Yorkers temporarily homeless. Half of them are expected to be unable to go home for weeks or months, assuming they even have homes to return to. Serious damage to heat and electrical infrastructure in apartment buildings and homes on the waterfront are among the most serious issues that have created a housing crisis for the city following Hurricane Sandy.
“Many of the fears we have is that with cold weather coming, we have to make sure people can stay warm,” Mayor Bloomberg said at an afternoon press briefing. “Among the hardest hit are the Rockaways and Staten Island. A lot of places aren’t gonna have electricity but are going to experience the cold. That is the next big problem for us.”
Despite his strong feelings this afternoon about keeping the race running, Mayor Bloomberg has just declared in a statement that he is cancelling Sunday’s New York City Marathon. He says it has become a source of controversy and does not want that to ruin the event for the participants.
“The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City’s life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch. While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division. The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it. We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event – even one as meaningful as this – to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track. The New York Road Runners will have additional information in the days ahead for participants.”
The crane that snapped back at One57 is still hanging precariously over Midtown, but the city is preparing a plan to secure the boom on the billionaire-beloved building that will commence tomorrow and should be completed by Monday night, Mayor Bloomberg announced at his press briefing this afternoon.
“Tomorrow, work on securing the crane will begin,” he said. “It’s approximately a 36 hour operation, and the goal is to remove the vacate order to allow people in the vicinity to return to their homes and offices by Monday night. We’ve just got to make sure we do this in a way that doesn’t cost any lives.”
New York City Marathon
“My first instinct was sure, we’re going to be ready for the big event. We can do anything in the world. We’re New Yorkers and that’s what New Yorkers do,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “But after visiting shelters around the city, seeing the devastation in Staten Island and Breezy Point and knowing that people are trapped in buildings on the Lower East Side and we cannot get to them, this is not the time.”
On Friday, Mr. Stringer voiced his opposition to holding the marathon this Sunday, joining a growing number of politicians who feel that the city should not host a major event while so many residents are struggling for access to electricity, food and water.
Mayor Bloomberg just announced at his first press briefing today that due to bumper-to-bumper traffic in Manhattan today, all East River crossings will be HOV-restricted starting tonight at 6 p.m. This means any vehicles wishing to enter Manhattan will have to have at least three passengers inside. The restrictions will be in place all day Thursday and Friday.
“We need to reduce the number of cars coming in. The streets cannot handle all the traffic,” Mayor Bloomberg said. He said the city would try and figure out a way to allow people to arrange for rides, either at the crossings or elsewhere, but no details were given.
“I know it’s inconvenient for a lot of people, but the streets just can’t handle it,” the mayor said.
As the full effects of Sandy hit the city late in the afternoon on Monday, there wasn’t a subway or a commuter train to be had. And that was surely a good thing.
New York officials made many good decisions in the run-up to Sandy. Mayor Bloomberg once again put evacuation plans into operation, moving the equivalent of a small city away from endangered shorelines. Other officials put emergency plans into motion with admirable crispness and an absolute lack of panic.
The best decision, however, was very likely the subway and rail shutdown.
Mayor Bloomberg just announced at his morning press briefing, which is still ongoing, that at least 10 New Yorkers have died as a result of Hurricane Sandy. “There are 10 in the city, and we expect that to go up as more information comes in,” the mayor said.”I want to extend my condolences to their families and ask all New Yorkers to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.”
The mayor said that despite problems at numerous hospitals in the city last night, none recorded any fatalities. He also said there are roughly 6,100 people in city shelters. The top priority, the mayor said, is getting the MTA back up and running as well as power.
“We expected an unprecedented storm in New York City, and that’s what we got,” the mayor said. “While the storm has passed, it is still dangerous out there.”
For the past few hours, New Yorkers’ eyes have been trained on the skies, or at least their TV and computer screens. No, they are not watching out for the eye of the storm but the crane that Hurricane Sandy has dislodged in Midtown Manhattan. The boom of the crane attached to the billionaire-beloved One57 snapped back earlier today and has been hanging precariously ever since, but it has yet to break free, and the hope is that will be the situation until the storm passes.
At a press briefing this evening, Mayor Bloomberg said all buildings on West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues have been evacuated, as well as “exposed buildings” on the same block of West 56th Street. Among the buildings evacuated were a hotel and some apartment and office buildings. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but better safe than sorry,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
The accident occurred at 2:35 p.m. today, according to a statement from Lend Lease, the general contractor on the project, the tallest apartment building in the city, at 1,005 feet, and also home to the most expensive sale ever, more than $90 million for the penthouse.
Mayor Bloomberg said the surrounding area had been secured, with steam, electricity and gas all being shut off to prevent any additional damage should the crane’s boom come loose.
If you happen to live on the city’s now-glitzy skid row, you should be high and dry, at least for the time being, so fear not for a slip-up during the mayor’s storm update this morning. If you caught it, Mayor Bloomberg said the Bowery had flooded, when in fact he meant The Battery, according to his staff.
“There has already been some flooding already in the Bowery, as well as the FDR and some of the Rockaways,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “We expect surge levels of 6 to 11 feet. A surge of 9 to 10 feet is possible along Coney Island and the Rockaways. And a surge of 11 to 12 feet may occur at the Battery Monday evening.”
“This is the most nervous I’ve ever been about a storm,” The New York Observer was told by the last man on Earth you’d ever want to hear those words from. “There’s just too much uncertainty.”
To illustrate that he’s not being hyperbolic, he said that this was also the first time he had ever brought a dry suit on a job, mentioning that if we were to follow him the next day, we should be very aware of the possibility of contracting hypothermia and the potential loss of some digits.
Not to mention the flying debris. “I wish I had brought a helmet,” the man said. He is not joking.