NEW YORK (WPIX)—The ING New York City Marathon has been canceled, the mayor's office confirmed Friday after taking heat from a legion of critics for holding the event even as a shocked and grieving city recovers from Hurricane Sandy.
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In a separate development, Con Edison was gradually restoring power in Manhattan Friday with a goal of getting most of the borough back on line by midnight Friday.
The good news about power in Manhattan comes as the region worries about the gas shortage.
"There is no reason to panic," Gov. Andrew Cuomo told New Yorkers Friday, saying help was on the way as fears grew over the gas shortage that is prompting miles-long car lines and outbreaks of violence at the pump.
The governor said at a news conference that fuel tankers have started to re-enter New York Harbor, and the U.S. Coast Guard announced that 2 million barrels of oil have been unloaded in the port and are on their way to distribution centers and eventually gas stations.
The harbor had been closed because of Hurricane Sandy, which created big backups in delivery.
To help the flow of fuel, Cuomo signed an executive order that waives state requirement that fuel tankers register and pay a tax before unloading. At the federal level, certain regulations have been waived (known as the Jones Act) that should hasten the delivery of fuel to the region.
The gas crisis is looming larger by the hour even as desperation grows in hard-hit areas of Staten Island and elsewhere. The state will pledge $100 million into funds dedicated to victims of Sandy and home repair, adding that 30 state-federal teams would be fanning out in damaged areas to start the process of getting disaster aid. Cuomo, perhaps hopefully, said devastated regions were starting to "transition to the reconstruction phase."
In New Jersey, Governer Christie ordered that people in counties buy gas over the weekend on an odd-even basis.
According to a release from Governor Christie's office, the last digit on the license plate would determine whether it is odd or even (ignoring any letters that follow). Any specialized plates or plates, or those not displaying a number, will be considered odd-numbered plates.
Governor Christie ordered that 12 counties in New Jersey put the system in place: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren.
The odd-even system will be in place as of noon on Saturday. Residents are encouraged to confirm details with their municipality. Montclair Township is operating under a slightly different system to determine how license plates ending with a letter are considered.
On Friday, more of the region's transit system haltingly returned to life as Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that most of Manhattan should have power by Friday at midnight. Cuomo said 1 million homes statewide remained without power, down from 2 million at the peak of the outages.
The federal government has declared Westchester and Rockland counties disaster areas, Cuomo said, but the focus of the crisis remained on places like Staten Island, where the grim accounting of Sandy's toll continued. More help was on the way from Pentagon ships and helicopters and suffering residents directed their anger at FEMA, OEM and the National Guard.
In other news, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said city schools would be open on Monday, but 40 might not be ready to receive students because of power-related issues. The city would alert families in advance of the schools' status. Other developments: Most city parks would be open by Saturday, beaches remain unsafe, and tap water is safe to drink everywhere but Breezy Point.
On Thursday, Cuomo warned shops not to price gouge and stepped up pressure on utilities to restore power to desperate New Yorkers.
Indeed, columnists and other observers were increasingly blaming Con Ed, not Sandy, for the delays in service restoration. The utility announced Thursday that the 'vast majority' of customers, who are served by overhead lines, won't get power back until Nov. 10 and 11. Remaining customers may have to wait another week or more after that. The difference is simply explained: Manhattan is power by underground systems, which can be more efficiently repaired than overhead lines.
Cuomo said utilities faced stiff penalties if they dropped the ball in quickly restoring service, while acknowledging they were working hard.
Sandy recovery would be a test of their performance.
"I want them to know that. And I think they do now," Cuomo said.
The restoration of subway service was tied to getting the power grid back up, said MTA Chair Joe Lhota. "We need that third rail lit," and all that's lacking, he said, was "the juice." Service in lower Manhattan would restore vital links to Brooklyn,. Now, shuttle buses between Brooklyn and Manhattan are filling the gap, but the lines have been long.
The city established food and water distribution centers in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan, and AT&T installed pods near these centers where people could get cell service and charge their phones. SEE WHERE TO GET HELP
More than 50 people had died in the tri-state area as a result of Sandy, 38 of those in New York City. Most of the dead in the city drowned. On Staten Island, the bodies of two little brothers who were washed away by a storm surge were discovered in a marsh. And there were other grim discoveries, too -- the toll in that borough stood at 19.
The gas shortage, meanwhile, evoked memories of the 1970s oil shocks, with mile-long lines at stations that actually had gas; police were often on hand to keep the peace after tensions spilled into fighting. The city's taxi fleet was feeling the pinch and could decrease in numbers, the New York Times reported, while the city had secured a supply of gas to power emergency vehicles. A majority of gas stations had run out of fuel in New Jersey and Long Island.
The recovery continued as water continued to be pumped from tunnels -- super pumpers from the Army Corps of Engineers are on the way -- and discussion grew about how New York would rebuild.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) said New York has to rebuild in a way that protects itself from the kind of damage wrought by Sandy. Th city grew because of New York Harbor, and now it has to protect itself from it.
"There will be a storm of this magnitude again," he said.