Mayor’s Update: Most Power Back By Midnight, AT&T ‘Pods,’ $5M More in Business Relief

Food line on DSuzanne Rozdeba

Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference earlier this afternoon. Here’s the latest.

The death toll has reached at least 41 New Yorkers, and it may rise. “We are getting to the point where we think we’ve been through every place but you can never be 100 percent sure,” said the mayor.

Since yesterday, the lights have come on for 70,000 more Con Edison customers. 460,000 New Yorkers are still estimated to be without power, approximately half of them in Manhattan. “The hope is to have power restored to most of the borough by midnight tonight,” said the mayor. “Some of these areas should start coming on in a couple of hours; two networks in lower Manhattan will take a little longer to come back online.”

13 distribution sites are currently open and staffed by National Guard members, NYC Service, and the Salvation Army. The city has given away 260,000 meals and bottled water. Those who visit sites and bring their own bags will get three meals, bottles of water.

AT&T has placed “pods” (trucks with generators) in Zone A that provide cell coverage for customers. Many of the pods are in the vicinity of food and water distribution centers.

The city has raised almost $10 million from individuals and corporations such as Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp, ING, Time Warner, and Viacom.

Companies like Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Co, Walmart and Gristedes have contributed supplies. Developers like Two Trees Management have made generators available.

Goldman Sachs will match the $5 million the city is providing to small businesses in Zone A. Small businesses in need of repairs can receive $5,000 to $25,000.

The city opened the first of several Disaster Assistance Service Centers today in the parking lot of Cyclones stadium at 1904 Surf Avenue. The centers, open till 5 p.m. daily, will provide information about applying for disaster benefits.

Traffic lights are expected to be back on tonight.

Car-pooling restrictions will be waived at 5 p.m. today.

The Holland Tunnel is being opened on a limited basis for commercial vehicles and buses.

Health department inspectors are being redeployed to meet with restaurant owners and explain how to reopen safety so that cases of food poisoning are kept to a minimum.

About 5,500 people are currently in city evacuation shelters. Some 20 percent of them have special medical needs. The city has consolidated its 76 evacuation shelters into 15 in order to make staffing easier.

Schools will reopen on Monday, but about 40 out of 2,000 of the schools may not be able to reopen until Wednesday. An update from the schools chancellor is expected this evening.

The majority of parks and playgrounds will reopen this weekend. About 40 to 50 percent are already open, but others are still dangerous. “A number of the 40-odd people that have died have died from a tree falling on them,” the mayor said.

The sanitation department is picking up garbage wherever possible, but there is still no recycling. About 17,000 tons of refuse was picked up yesterday.