NEW YORK: Officials in New York and New Jersey are in a race against time to house vulnerable residents left in uninhabitable accommodation by superstorm Sandy before another storm hits this week.
Temperatures dropped to near freezing on Monday night, highlighting the plight of up to 40,000 people in New York who need shelter amid continuing blackouts.
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New York closing parks ahead of storm
New York City is closing all of its parks, playgrounds and beaches as a weather precaution pending the next storm.
With power restored to lower Manhattan and 90 per cent of schools open, the city's subway network was packed with commuters and students as it operated a revised timetable.
But in the Rockaways - a coastal region in the borough of Queens - thousands of residents were without power for the seventh day.
The New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said 30,000 to 40,000 people may need to be relocated as they could be without power for days.
The New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, said: ''People are in homes that are uninhabitable. It's going to become increasingly clear that they're uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn't come on.''
One option could be setting up mass caravan camps, similar to those in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The storm this week could bring gusts of up to 90 km/h and further flooding. ''Prepare for more outages,'' was the advice of the National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina. ''Stay indoors. Stock up again.''
''Nights are the worst because you feel like you're outside when you're inside,'' said Genice Josey, a Far Rockaway resident who has slept under three blankets and wears long johns under her pyjamas in an effort to keep warm. ''You shiver yourself to sleep.''
Sandy has already been blamed for the deaths of 113 people in the US, adding to the 69 killed as the hurricane made its way through the Caribbean. The fear now is that more people may die as a result of hypothermia. The elderly are particularly at risk.
Adding to woes is the continuing scarcity of petrol. Long lines at the pumps have become a common sight across New York and New Jersey.
Part of the problem has been panic-buying by motorists. The New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, tried to allay motorists' fears saying the state did not have a fuel shortage.
The President, Barack Obama, ordered his administration to release an additional 54 million litres of unleaded fuel and 45 million litres of diesel. Much of that was trucked to New Jersey and New York over the weekend and should be delivered by the time the new storm arrives. Mr Cuomo warned power suppliers that they would be held accountable for any preventable delays.
''We will be reasonable, but we will hold them accountable,'' he said.
❏ Occupy Wall Street has set up camp online at Amazon.com and Walmart's websites, using wedding registries to solicit gifts of everything from blankets to batteries to bleach for victims of Sandy.
''We're not banner-waving over this. We're trying to build networks of people who care about each other,'' Samantha Corbin, 28, an Occupy Sandy volunteer at a Brooklyn church receiving donations from the Amazon registry said.
By using Amazon, the movement may be able to provide faster delivery of supplies directly to those in need. The risk is donors may not know exactly who receives gifts or whether they in fact reach Sandy victims.
Guardian News & Media, Bloomberg