NEW YORK - More New Yorkers awoke yesterday to power being restored for the first time since Hurricane Sandy pummeled the region, but patience wore thin among those who have been without power for most of the week.
From storm-scarred New Jersey to parts of Connecticut, a widespread lack of gasoline added to the frustration.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the Defense Department will set up emergency mobile gas stations at five locations around the New York City metropolitan area to distribute free fuel with a limit of 10 gallons (38 liters ) per person. Cars and emergency service vehicles will be able to fill up directly from the 5,000-gallon (19,000-liter ) trucks.
"Fuel is on the way," Cuomo said. "Do not panic. I know there is anxiety about fuel."
Gas rationing was to start at noon yesterday in northern New Jersey, where drivers will be allowed to buy it only every other day.
In Washington, President Barack Obama visited the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for an update on superstorm recovery efforts, saying, "There's nothing more important than us getting this right. Obviously we've now seen that after the initial search and rescue, the recovery process is difficult and it's painful. But I'm confident that we will continue to make progress as long as state and local and federal officials stay focused."
Obama cited the need to restore power; pump out water, particularly from electric substations; ensure that basic needs are addressed; remove debris; and get federal resources in place to help transportation systems come back on line.
Power has been restored to about 60 percent of the New York metropolitan area, with about 900,000 residents still without electricity, including about 550,000 on Long Island, Cuomo said.
About 80 percent of New York City's subway service has been restored, he added.
Each day has brought signs of recovery in the region. Fewer than 1 million customers in New York were without power yesterday, the lowest the number has been since the storm hit.
Aida Padilla, 75, was thrilled that the power at her large housing authority complex in New York City's Chelsea section had returned late Friday.
'Thank God, Jesus!'
"Thank God," said Padilla. "I screamed and I put the lights on. Everybody was screaming. It was better than New Year's."
Asked about whether she had heat, she replied, "hot and cold water and heat! Thank God, Jesus!"
But on Staten Island, there was grumbling that the borough was a lower priority to get its services restored.
"You know it's true," said Tony Carmelengo, who lives in the St. George section of Staten Island and still does not have electricity.
Added his neighbor, Anthony Como: "It's economics. Manhattan gets everything, let's face it."
The governor said the New York area had a strong sense of community, "but until you have your lights on you're not happy."
"We're not going to stop until we have every house and every home restored. ... This was truly a crisis, but it requires patience," Cuomo said.
NYU Langone Medical Center, one of two New York hospitals that had to evacuate patients at the height of the storm, said it would reopen Monday, although some doctors would see patients at alternate sites.
Seven backup generators at the hospital failed Monday night, forcing the evacuation of 300 patients.
At Bellevue Hospital Center, some 700 patients had to be evacuated after the power failed. An official there said the hospital could be out of commission at least two more weeks.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would make public a list of when New Jersey utility companies intend to restore power to each community. Even if they end up working faster or slower, he said, residents will have a sense of when power will be restored so they can plan their lives a bit better.
Commuter rail operator NJ Transit said it would have more service restored in time for the workweek to start Monday, most of Atlantic City's casinos reopened, and many school districts decided to hold classes on Thursday and Friday.
The storm forced cancellation of today's New York City Marathon, stranding 40,000 runners, including 20,000 who came from out of town. Mayor Michael Bloomberg reversed himself Friday and yielded to mounting criticism about running the race, which traditionally starts on hard-hit Staten Island and wends through all five of the city's boroughs.
Bloomberg, who as late as Friday afternoon insisted the world's largest marathon should go on as scheduled, changed course shortly afterward amid intensifying opposition from the city comptroller, the Manhattan borough president and sanitation workers unhappy they had volunteered to help storm victims but were assigned to the race instead. The mayor said he would not want "a cloud to hang over the race or its participants."
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