* Thousands on Long Island to get power back by end of
* More tunnels open, more trains running
* Hardest-hit areas in New York and New Jersey still without
By Barbara Goldberg and Edith Honan
NEW YORK, Nov 12 Millions of New York City
commuters, whose routines were capsized by Superstorm Sandy,
kicked off the work week on Monday with a slightly smoother trip
thanks to light holiday traffic, restoration of some train lines
and an opening of the final tunnel shut by historic flooding.
Two weeks after the storm, tens of thousands of homes and
businesses in the hardest-hit sections of New York and New
Jersey remained without electricity, but most residents affected
elsewhere were powered up.
On Long Island, where some 56,000 homes and businesses
remained without service on Monday afternoon, the New York
state-owned Long Island Power Authority said it expects to
restore power to most of those able to receive it by the end of
LIPA said up to 17,500 customers in Nassau and Suffolk and
29,000 in the Rockaways in New York City were unable to receive
power safely because severe flooding may have damaged electrical
panels, wires, outlets and appliances.
Even with the lights on, some homes remained without phone,
Internet and TV service due to damaged equipment and wires
brought down by the deadly storm.
At least 121 people perished in the storm, which caused an
estimated $50 billion in property damage and economic losses and
ranks as one of the most destructive natural disasters to hit
the U.S. Northeast.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to ask the
federal government for a supplemental appropriation of $30
billion in disaster aid - on top of reimbursements expected from
the Federal Emergency Management Agency for out-of-pocket
The money would pay for infrastructure costs, housing needs,
costs to local governments, and small business losses, while
helping with the long-term economic recovery in New York City,
Long Island and other devastated parts of the state, he said.
"The damage here is much more severe than just the
out-of-pocket expense," Cuomo told a news conference. "This was
cataclysmic for New York, and I think it is a wise investment
for the federal government to help us to build this economy
President Barack Obama is to visit the city's disaster areas
Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and city Comptroller John
Liu to announce an emergency capital appropriation of $500
million to repair public schools and hospitals.
Bloomberg said in a news conference that while the city will
seek federal reimbursements for its expenditures, it was moving
ahead without any guarantees of repayment.
"Our city has never experienced a storm as destructive as
Hurricane Sandy, and financing for these repairs is as necessary
as it is urgent," Bloomberg said. "These school buildings and
public hospitals are resources that hundreds of thousands of New
Yorkers rely on every day - and we are not waiting for federal
aid to begin the work of repairing and reopening them."
The City Council will vote on the package on Tuesday.
CLOSER TO NORMAL
At the start of the work week, commuter stress was eased by
the opening of the Hugh Carey-Brooklyn Battery tunnel to buses
only, the return of all Metro North and Long Island Railroad
Lines but one and restoration of limited service on a New Jersey
Transit train line into New York's Penn Station.
"I was really afraid of overcrowding today but the train was
half full," said Anne O'Malley, 46, a marketer who rides NJ
Transit from Maplewood, New Jersey, to New York.
Since Sandy struck two weeks ago, O'Malley has endured four
hours of daily commuting - double her usual travel time - but it
was closer to normal on Monday.
The railroad is concentrating on repairing all damaged
trains, restoring damaged overhead wires and washed out tracks
and aligning rails, said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
Two major train lines from New Jersey into New York remain
suspended. Commuters were urged to use alternatives provided by
NJ Transit, including free bus trips to free or low-cost ferries
across the Hudson River, some docking at 39th Street, others
headed for lower Manhattan.
"Things take time," Snyder said. "Much like New Jerseyans
sustained personal loss, the transit system suffered too."
For the most part, a federal holiday - Veterans Day - meant
a less congested commute. It was hit and miss for many, with
some bus riders reporting being stuck for more than two hours
outside the Lincoln Tunnel where, Snyder said, two buses
collided, injuring about 20 people.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tweeted that gas
rationing in his state would end at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, although
rationing continued in New York City under a system in which
cars with odd- and even-numbered license plates can fill up only
on alternate days.
Bloomberg said anecdotal evidence suggests "lines are
shorter" and more gas stations have reopened, but the city's
restrictions on fuel purchases will remain in effect.