A building sits in the middle of the road in Belmar, N.J., on Oct. 30, 2012. CREDIT: Governor's Office/Tim Larsen
Falling temperatures on Sunday put more people at risk in a region already battling gasoline shortages, stubborn power outages and spasms of lawlessness in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
With overnight temperatures in the 30s and nearly a million people still without power in the area, New York City opened warming shelters in areas without power and Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged older residents without heat to move to them. The city also was handing out 25,000 blankets to residents who insist on staying in powerless homes.
"So please," Bloomberg said, "I know sometimes people are reticent to take advantage of services. The cold really is something that is dangerous."
Bloomberg also said that resolving gas shortages could take days.
The U.S. death toll from the storm is currently 107, including 41 in New York City. More than 2.2 million customers in several states remained without power days after Sandy came ashore.
About 875,000 still don't have electricity in the New York metropolitan area, including about 460,000 on Long Island.
Lines curled around gas stations for many blocks all over the stricken region, including northern New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie imposed rationing that recalled the worst days of fuel shortages of the 1970s. Queues of honking cars, frustrated drivers and people on foot carrying containers were just the latest testament to the misery unleashed by Sandy.
"I spoke with many people who were worried and frustrated and cold," Bloomberg said after a visit to the Rockaways in Queens. "There is no power there and temperatures are dropping. Even those who have generators are having a hard time getting fuel."
"It's chaos; it's pandemonium out here," said Chris Damon, who had been waiting for 3 ? hours at a site where the National Guard was giving out free gas in an effort to alleviate the situation. "It seems like nobody has any answers."
After at least 10 arrests for line jumping on Friday, the police presence at stations with gas lines was increased Saturday. Still, there was one arrest for disorderly conduct at the armory in Brooklyn, where free gasoline was being distributed.
And fears about crime, especially at night in darkened neighborhoods, persisted. Officers in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island early Saturday saw a man in a Red Cross jacket checking the front doors of unoccupied houses and arrested him on a burglary charge. After complaints about people posing as utility workers to gain access to people's homes, police on Long Island reminded residents that most repair work will be done outside so legitimate workers usually have no need to enter a home.
About 80 percent of New York City's subway service has been restored.
New York City's parks also reopened Saturday, and with Sunday's marathon canceled, many of the runners who had come to town for the race worked out their frustrations with a jog through Central Park, the site of the finish line that won't be used. A Facebook page invited runners to meet Sunday in the park for a 26.2 mile run and encouraged marathoners to bring food, clothes or money to donate to storm victims.
To help victims of Sandy, donations to the American Red Cross can be made by visiting Red Cross disaster relief, or you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.