A worker repairs power lines on Long Island, N.Y., which was hit hard by Superstorm… (Bruce Bennett, Getty Images )
Although the Northeast is far from back to normal, officials in New York and New Jersey are nudging areas afflicted by Superstorm Sandy back to livability.
The number of customers without electricity in the region had dropped below 170,000 Sunday — far from the peak of 8.7 million after the storm's arrival two weeks ago. The bulk of those without power were in New York state, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
New York energy provider Con Edison said that almost all power had been restored that was safe to restore. But 30,000 customers in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island have so much damage that power either can't be restored or must be tested for safety.
The story was similar for 55,000 customers of the Long Island Power Authority.
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in his weekly radio address Sunday that the city was "doing everything we can to ensure that New Yorkers still displaced by the storm get back in their homes as soon as possible."
"That means two things," he said. "First, we're working with utility companies to bring back power to homes where it's safe to do so. Second, we're working with homeowners whose electrical systems need to be repaired before power can safely be turned back on."
The mayor said teams of workers were going door to door to see what needed to be done.
For the 5,700 customers who have spent two weeks without electricity in West Virginia — which saw massive snowfall as Sandy raked the Eastern Seaboard — Mon Power expected to complete repairs by Monday.
Ten of the Long Island Rail Road's 11 lines were to reopen Monday after flooded tunnels were drained. PATH rail lines between New York and New Jersey also were to resume, but officials cautioned that it would take several weeks to restore PATH lines to Hoboken and the Newark-World Trade Center line.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured Staten Island on Sunday and reiterated that housing remained her top concern. Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate said in a statement that the agency had approved $455 million in disaster disbursements to the 369,000 people who requested FEMA's help.