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Post-Sandy New York: Long, cold walks

November 03, 2012|By Shashank Bengali
  • Morning commuters walk and bicycle across New York's Brooklyn Bridge. Nearly every office dweller fantasizes about the joys of working from home, but super storm Sandy has created legions of people who can't wait to get back to the office.
Morning commuters walk and bicycle across New York's Brooklyn Bridge.… (Richard Drew / Associated…)

NEW YORK -- His three-mile commute usually takes about 20 minutes by train, but with his subway line still down and buses overloaded in the wake of this week's punishing storm, Miguel Tiempos walked for more than an hour on a brisk, 45-degree Saturday morning, crossing over the windswept Williamsburg Bridge that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan.

“If I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid,” Tiempos said, his hands dug into the pockets of his cotton sweatshirt. “Maybe I lose my job.”

The night before, soon after power was restored to Manhattan's Lower East Side, Tiempo's boss called, saying he was expected Saturday at the Italian restaurant where he works as a cook. And so, like thousands of others throughout the New York metropolitan area still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, Tiempos was having to make do.

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Electricity was restored to much of lower Manhattan on Friday night, and authorities expect that the remaining parts of the island will have power by the end of Saturday, but many New Yorkers continue to be hobbled by the aftermath of last week’s historic storm.

Businesses in Lower Manhattan were slowly reopening but long gas lines and overcrowded buses continued to hamper transit for many New Yorkers. By midday, 80% of the subway system had been restored, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, including some of the under-river lines that are vital for commuters traveling to jobs in Manhattan from Brooklyn and Queens.

“This is a major step forward in the resumption of regular subway service in New York City,” Cuomo said.
However, some subway lines remained closed and confusion reigned among commuters still struggling to understand the bus system. Many, like Tiempos, chose to walk as employers called them back to work in a reilluminated lower Manhattan.

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“It would have taken two hours by train, so I figured this was better,” said Sarah Gerard, who walked about an hour to her job at a bookstore. A hat was pulled low over her face and her nose was runny from the long trek over the East River.

Con Edison, the utility, said Saturday morning that about 280,000 customers remained without power, most of them in New York’s outlying boroughs and northern suburbs. In Manhattan, just 5,800 people remained without power.

shashank.bengali@latimes.com

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