* 30,000 to 40,000 will need shelter, New York mayor says
* Death toll reaches 111 as temperatures dip near freezing
* Fuel and power still short; concern over Tuesday election
* Disappointed marathoners regroup, organize benefit runs
By Ilaina Jonas and Edith Honan
NEW YORK, Nov 4 A housing crisis loomed in New
York City as victims of superstorm Sandy struggled on Sunday
without heat in near-freezing temperatures, and officials
fretted displaced residents would not be able to vote in
Tuesday's presidential election.
Fuel shortages and power outages lingered nearly a week
after one of the worst storms in U.S. history flooded homes in
coastal neighborhoods, leaving many without heat and in need of
shelter in New York and New Jersey. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said
30,000 to 40,000 people in New York City alone would need
housing, including around 20,000 from public housing.
"We don't have a lot of empty housing in this city. It's a
problem to find housing. We're not going to let anybody go
sleeping in the street," Bloomberg said. "But it's a challenge
and we're working on this as fast as we can."
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on
Sunday federal agencies are looking for apartments and hotel
rooms for people displaced by Sandy.
"Our goal is to try to get people out of the shelters,"
Napolitano said at a news conference in New Jersey with Governor
Overnight, at least two more bodies were found in New Jersey
- one dead of hypothermia - as the overall North American death
toll from Sandy climbed to at least 111.
"People are in homes that are uninhabitable," New York
Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference. "People don't
like to leave their home, but the reality is going to be in the
Concerns are growing that voters displaced by Sandy won't
get to polling stations on Tuesday. Scores of voting centers
were rendered useless by the record surge of seawater in New
York and New Jersey.
Temperatures dipped to 39 Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius)
early on Sunday morning in New York City, the lowest in days,
with freezing temperatures expected overnight. An early-season
"Nor'easter" storm was expected to hit the battered New England
coast this week with strong winds and heavy rain.
"The power is back but we have no heat," said Adeline
Camacho, a volunteer who was handing out soup and sandwiches to
needy residents of the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Sunday.
"A lot of people haven't been able to bathe or stay warm. Last
night was cold and this night is going to be much worse."
Fuel supplies continued to rumble toward disaster zones and
electricity was slowly returning to darkened neighborhoods,
after the storm slammed the coast last Monday.
In New Jersey, where residents were waiting for hours in
line at gas stations, Christie tried to ease the fuel crunch by
reassuring people that refineries and pipelines were back online
and gas was being delivered. "We do not have a fuel shortage,"
he said at a news conference.
A reopened New York Harbor meant fuel was reaching
terminals, even as major facilities remained idle.
Bloomberg said it would be a "very, very long time" before
power would return to certain New York neighborhoods along the
coast, where buildings were destroyed. Cuomo said fuel shortages
are improving but problems will persist for "a number of days."
Power restorations over the weekend relit the skyline in
Lower Manhattan for the first time in nearly a week and allowed
80 percent of the New York City subway service to resume. Most
schools were due to reopen on Monday.
Some 1.9 million homes and business still lacked power
across the Northeast on Sunday, down from 2.5 million the day
Still, a quarter of New Jersey and almost a tenth of New
York remained in the dark, the Department of Energy said. Just
after Sandy tore across the densely populated area, more than
8.5 million customers were without power.
"All these numbers are nice but they mean nothing until the
power is on in your house," said Cuomo, who warned he would hold
the utility companies accountable "100 percent" for their
STRUGGLING IN STATEN ISLAND
Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean before turning north
and hammering the U.S. Eastern Seaboard on Monday with 80
mile-per-hour (130-kph) winds and a record surge of seawater.
The two new deaths in New Jersey - where the storm came
ashore last Monday night - included a 71-year-old man who
suffered from hypothermia and a 55-year-old man who died from
smoke inhalation in a house fire, police said on Sunday.
That raised New Jersey's death toll to 24 while the New York
City death count was 40.
In the hard-hit borough of Staten Island, Marie Mandia's
house had a yellow sticker on it, meaning the city restricted
her use of it. The storm surge broke through her windows and
flooded her basement and main floor, the retired teacher said.
"I'm not staying here. There's no protection," said Mandia,
60, who stood outside by a pile of her ruined things - a washer,
drier, television and furniture. "Here's my life. Everybody's
looking at it."
On Friday, Bloomberg abruptly called off the city's
marathon, which was set for Sunday, bowing to criticism that the
event would divert resources from flood-ravaged neighborhoods.
The race had been expected to draw more than 40,000 runners
to the city from around the world. Instead, hundreds of runners
set off on informal runs to deliver food and clothes to Staten
Island and other areas in need.
More than 1,000 people crowded onto two Staten Island Ferry
boats early on Sunday, headed to the stricken borough with
relief supplies including food and plastic bags.
Ruth Silverberg, 59, returned to her Staten Island home
Sunday for the first time since the storm. Sh e had been on a
cruise in the Bahamas and found more than 4 f eet (1 .2 meters) of
water in her basement. "Things were just floating. I thought it
would take me two weeks to clear it out," she said.
Instead, a group of 15 marathon runners formed an assembly
line and cleared the basement of its contents in two hours. "I'm
awed," Silverberg said, her voice choking.
ELECTION FACES 'REAL PROBLEMS'
President Barack Obama, neck-and-neck in opinion polls with
Republican challenger Mitt Romney, ordered emergency response
officials to cut through government "red tape" and work without
delay to help affected areas return to normal.
With the post-storm chaos overshadowing the final days of
campaigning, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 68
percent of those surveyed approved of how Obama handled Sandy
and just 15 percent disapproved.
Christie, a Republican who raised eyebrows this week with
his effusive praise of the Democratic President's handling of
the storm, said on Sunday he still intended to vote for Romney.
New Jersey has said it will allow people displaced by the
storm to vote by email and in New York City, so me 143,000 v oters
wi l l b e reassigned to different polling sites.
B loomberg said the Board of Elections has "real problems,"
and warned that i t w ould be critical to make sure poll workers
were informed of the changes.
" Unfortunately, there is a history of not communicating
changes to their poll workers," Bloomberg said, adding the board
has proven to be "dysfunctional" in recent years.