As a new storm barrels up the east coast, relief efforts scramble to secure heat and housing for over tens of thousands of people left homeless after Hurricane Sandy.
The Northeast is bracing for a strong, low pressure system that is expected to bring rain, gale force winds and high tides to the region on Wednesday, continuing into Thursday.
The National Weather Service is predicting that the storm could produce sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts of up to 60 m.p.h. Storm surges along the coasts of New Jersey and New York are expected to rise as much as 3 feet.
Forecasters warn that temperatures along the coast may dip into the 30s on Wednesday night with a potential mix of sleet and snow in inland areas.
As the east coast braces for this wintry assault, 1.85 million households are still without power including more than one million in New Jersey, the state hardest hit. As the temperatures drops, officials are urging people left in the dark and cold to go to overnight shelters or daytime warming centers.
Of the 40,000 New Yorkers left homeless from the storm, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned "this is going to be a massive, massive housing problem." According to the Associated Press, FEMA estimates that it has already dispensed close to $200 million in emergency housing assistance and has put 34,000 residents of New York and New Jersey up in hotels and motels.
As for the impact of the storm, Michael Clendenin, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison, said it was "quite likely that some people who had lost power and had it restored could lose it again."
Occupy Sandy—which has been spearheading much of the relief effort in some of the hardest hit areas of New York and New Jersey—details some of the potential hazards of a second, large storm descending on the northeast:
- Strong, potentially damaging winds …could stress an already weakened infrastructure that exists in this area, taking additional trees [and] wires down. More power outages are possible.
- Some local flooding could occur from heavy precipitation. Especially in Rockaway where all the sewage drains are blocked with sand.
- Coastal flooding: dunes and seawalls once protected shore communities from storm surges. ...But with the dunes and seawalls damaged or destroyed, it’ll be a lot easier to flood out low-lying coastal areas devastated by Sandy.
- Precipitation type: heavy wet snow may bring down weakened limbs and/or wires, creating additional power outage problems.
Normally a storm of this magnitude would not be cause for alarm, but in the wake of last week's disaster, a weary population and a battered infrastructure can hardly take much more.