Mayor Bloomberg just made his latest update on the impact of the now-mostly departed Hurricane Irene, and he sounded satisfied with the city's response: "The worst is over and we will soon move to restore and return mode." However, he warned that MTA service will not be resuming today, and likely won't resume until late Monday at best. His message to commuters tomorrow: "It's gonna be tough."
Bloomberg defended the exhaustive preparation for the storm: "Bottom line is, I would make same decisions again without hesitation." Transit will not resume today, aviation traffic will resume Tuesday, and PATH service is point to point only. Bloomberg said that the city doesn't yet know the full extent of damage caused by the storm, but was very grateful that there have been no confirmation of deaths or injuries from Irene. "We did have substantial erosion on Staten Island and the Rockaways beaches," and Orchard Beach in the Bronx is underwater, the Mayor said. He warned residents, "nature is dangerous, pay attention."
People living in the low-lying areas (Zone A) will be able to go back to their homes around 3 p.m., which is when the evacuation order will be lifted. He said that there may have been water damage in the basement of many high rise buildings, and elevators are out in many others. NYCHA residents should plan to return at about 6 p.m. today to give staff time to prepare.
Bloomberg also discussed the water rescue of 61 adults and 3 babies trapped in 5 feet of water—he said emergency personnel were on scene within two minutes, and there were no serious injuries. The Mayor noted that "something like 650 trees" have been uprooted in the five boroughs, and more than 100 forestry crews are working to remove the downed limbs.
Bloomberg was also enthusiastic about how great the crime numbers were during the storm: crime overnight was well below normal, with 45 arrests compared to an average of 345 on a typical Saturday night in August.
Hizzoner ended the press conference by again addressing questions about whether the city Irene prep was overblown; he said that people who were asking that question should "look in the mirror and be glad they're alive today."