[UPDATE BELOW] More than 650K New Yorkers are without power, and large swaths of the city (including the subways) flooded due to the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy last night, everyone has a lot of questions about the city's recovery plan. Starting around 10 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg will give an update on everything that's going on in the wake of the Frankenstorm. Watch it below, and we'll update the post afterwards with all the relevant details.
Update: Bloomberg, joined by Senator Chuck Schumer and other city officials, gave an overview of the damage caused by last night's Hurricane Sandy storm surge. "Make no mistake about it, this was a devesatating storm, maybe the worst that we've ever experienced," he started out by saying. Altogether, at least 10 people have been killed in NYC, but officials expect the number to go up as they continue search-and-rescue missions.
"Our two biggest challenges going forward will be getting our transit system and power grid up and running," he said, noting neither will be repaired overnight. Bloomberg said that he would estimate that both could be mostly back on-line in "3 or 4" days or "4 or 5" days—the figures indicated that there's overwhelming uncertainty how quickly things can be fixed. "I'd be happy if it turned out to be [only a few days]," Bloomberg added. "Our administration will move heaven and Earth to help them, to get things back up and running."
Additional reporting from Jake Dobkin and Jen Carlson
Altogether, the latest Con Ed estimates are that 750K New Yorkers are without power, including 26K apartments; power will be out in most places for at least 2-3 days. As was expected, the steam system south of 42nd Street was preemptively shut down by Con Ed (that included many downtown hospitals)—they're hoping it will be quicker getting that back up. As a result of the loss of power and failure of backup generators, NYU Langone Medical Center and Coney Island Hospital were both evacuated; Bellevue Hospital lost power, but is operating on backup power for now.
There were 23 serious fires in parts of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx; in particular, at least 80 houses were lost to the raging inferno in Breezy Point: "It looked like a forest fire in the midwest." Search and rescue operations there are ongoing, and Bloomberg is "hoping and praying there was no loss of life in those fires."
So while most public transportation will remain closed until further notice, Bloomberg is hopeful limited bus service will resume this afternoon, and hopes it will be fully back up tomorrow (assuming the roads are all clear). In the meantime, he has signed an executive order allowing cab drivers to pick up multiple passengers at a time; it also allowed livery and black cabs to pick up passengers anywhere in the city, as long as MTA service is out.
No flights are leaving or arriving city airports today. Public schools will be closed today and tomorrow. 76 shelters will remain open today, and until people displaced by storm can return home. Bloomberg reiterated that residents should stay away from parks, which are all still closed, and to not go near damaged trees, beaches, sidewalks, seawalls, or downed wires. "It's fun to look and challenge nature, but nature is a lot more powerful than we are and we dont need any more fatalities," he said toward the end. "We expected an unprecedented storm impact here in NYC, and that's what we got. And while the worst of the storm has passed, conditions are still dangerous, I can't stress that enough."