Nor'easter prompts NYC nursing home evacuations

Rockaway residents wait in line to cast their ballots in an unheated makeshift tent set up as a polling place at Scholars' Academy, PS 180, in the Rockaway neighborhood on November 6, 2012 ,in the Queens borough of New York City. Getty Images

NEW YORK Hundreds of nursing home residents in New York City's storm-battered Rockaways section are being evacuated ahead of a storm expected to bring more bad weather to the region.

State and city health officials said Tuesday that three nursing homes and an adult care center in the coastal community were being emptied of residents and staff.

More than 620 people live in the four facilities. None of those nursing homes had been evacuated for Superstorm Sandy.

Wednesday's nor'easter isn't expected to be nearly as bad, but health officials say the homes are already running on emergency generators. They are worried about first responders in the neighborhood being stretched too thin.

The storm is expected to hit the region early Wednesday morning, with the worst conditions arriving in the evening, reports WCBS. New York City is expected to get up to an inch of rain and two inches of snow, as well as wind gusts up to 60 mph along the Jersey Shore and parts of Long Island, two of the hardest-hit areas from Sandy.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city was closing all parks, playgrounds and beaches from noon Wednesday until noon Thursday as the nor'easter bears down, WBCS reports.

"We could have some snow on the ground and certainly some snow on the trees. That makes trees who already have their base flooded more likely to fall over, and that's something that we're really going to worry about," Bloomberg said, adding strong winds are also a threat.

There are no mandatory evacuation orders in effect for New York City but officials have warned residents in the lowest-lying areas like the Rockaways and the south shore of Staten Island about the storm.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie warned Tuesday that high winds may mean some residents who regained power will lose it again, and the wind could also slow efforts to restore power, WCBS reports. There is "nothing we can do to stop the storms," he said.

Authorities in Brick Township and Toms River in New Jersey have issued a mandatory evacuation order for everyone who lives in the low-lying, waterfront areas of the town due to the predicted nor'easter, reports CBS affiliate KYW, in Philadelphia. Anyone in the area of the town that's prone to flooding or storm surge must evacuate by Tuesday at 6 p.m., the order says. Sandy ravaged the townships as it moved through last week.

Utility crews are racing to restore power to residents of northeastern New Jersey who have been sitting in the dark for a week.

They've found task to be both mundane and monumental: Clean a bunch of gunk off electrical equipment with rags and cleaning spray.

Sixty-seven thousand utility workers in the Northeast are working day and night on tasks they are familiar with: putting up telephone poles, stringing wire and replacing transformers. But Sandy's storm surge added another dimension by attacking the utilities' internal equipment. Switching stations, substations and underground electrical networks were inundated in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hoboken and elsewhere.

But it's the sheer volume of work that is making the power outages last so long for some. At the peak, 8.5 million homes and businesses were without power. A week after the storm walloped the Northeast, 1.4 million customers remained in the dark, mostly in New York and New Jersey. Getting the power back on for all of them will take at least another week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says more than 277,000 people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have registered for assistance and more than $251 million have been approved.

FEMA also said Tuesday that 95,000 people are eligible for emergency housing assistance in New York and New Jersey. The figures for each state weren't immediately available.

The program allows survivors who can't return to their homes due to storm Sandy damage to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing becomes available.

Individuals can sign up for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

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