It's almost time for the most wonderful press conference of the day: Mayor Bloomberg will give unto us his latest update on the city's Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts at 12:30 p.m. Or, as those of you who have been following along with these events every day already know, he'll be speaking sometime between 12:45 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. We're hoping for more clarity about whether power will really be restored in Manhattan today or tomorrow; and perhaps Bloomberg will comment on the controversy over the city's intentions to hold the marathon this weekend.
Update: Mayor Bloomberg, who started his Sandy press conference only 30 minutes late this afternoon, defended the city's decision to go ahead with the NYC Marathon despite the ongoing Sandy recovery efforts. And it seems Hizzoner is taking advice from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani on this one: "If you think back to the days of 9/11, I think Rudy made the right decision in those days to run the marathon and bring the people together. We need to find ways to express ourselves."
During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Bloomberg went into a bit more detail about the marathon, and why the marathon won't affect recovery efforts in Staten Island, Breezy Points, the Rockaways, and other hard hit parts of the city. "It does use some resources, but it doesn't use resources that can really make a difference in recovery...There will be no diversion of resources." He added that, "if I thought it took any resources away from that, we wouldn't do that. We haven plenty of police officers who work in areas that aren't affected."
He also said he had talked to Giuliani this morning, and Giuliani who advised him to move forward: "New York has to show that we are here, and we are going to recover, and while we help people, we can still help companies that need business, still generate tax base, and give people something to cheery about in what's been a very dismal week for a lot of people."
Of course, 9/11 was two months before the marathon that year, while this comes days after the storm hit the city, and while many communities are still struggling to get water and power back, let alone deal with losing hundreds of homes and businesses. Bloomberg also brought up the fact that people wanted to cancel New Year's Eve celebration because of the 2010 snowstorm: "I think Rudy had it right. You have to keep going and doing things, and you can grieve, cry, and laugh all at the same time. That's what human beings are good at."
Bloomberg did have some good news about electricity: Con Ed has already begun re-activating areas in Manhattan today, and they hope to have power back to most of the borough by midnight tonight. Approximately 460K people are still without power, and half of those are in Manhattan.
Other updates: a 36-hour operation to secure the W. 57th Street crane will begin tomorrow, so the area can become habitable by Monday night. The Holland Tunnel is now opened on a limited basis for commercial vehicles and buses. The HOV restrictions for cars getting into Manhattan will end at 5 p.m. today and there will be no HOV restrictions this weekend (and hopefully none Monday).
About the upcoming elections on Tuesday, Bloomberg said: "It's going to be up to [the Board of Elections] to ensure that everybody has a nearby poll site and knows where it is." Public schools will reopen for classes Monday, but approximately 40 out of 2000 of these school building wont be able to reopen because of damage. Almost all city parks and playgrounds will open this weekend; already 50/60% are open now, he noted. And as for the ongoing gas crisis, Bloomberg noted that the entire supply chain of gas has been bottlenecked, but "issues are now starting to be alleviated."