Streets just cannot handle the number of cars
Subways and buses rolled again in some parts of New York City Thursday and mandatory water restrictions were in effect across New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.
Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi of hard-hit New Jersey and Billy Joel of New York's badly damaged Long Island are scheduled to perform in a one-hour telecast benefit concert for victims of Sandy Friday.
The 8 p.m. EDT "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together" concert -- which is also to include Christina Aguilera, Sting, comedian Jimmy Fallon and NBC News anchor Brian Williams -- will benefit the American Red Cross, NBCUniversal Media said.
The event, which will be taped-delayed in the West, will be shown on NBC and NBCUniversal cable stations Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, E! Entertainment Television, G4, Syfy, Style Network and USA Network, NBCUniversal said. It will also be streamed live on the NBC.com website.
Channels not owned by the company will be allowed to broadcast the concert, broadcast from NBC facilities in New York City's Rockefeller Center and hosted by Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today" show.
Service resumed Thursday on 14 of New York's 23 subway lines, but no service was below 34th Street, much of which was still without power. City buses and suburban commuter rail lines also ran with limited service.
All transit fares were eliminated Thursday and Friday after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy authorized the Metropolitan Transit Authority to waive fares Thursday and Friday as an inducement to get people to take mass transit.
Much of New York City faced gridlock. Taxis picked up multiple passengers. Gasoline was increasingly hard to come by -- some cars ran out of gas while waiting for hours in mile-long lines.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered Manhattan-bound cars on all bridges except the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey to have at least three passengers from 6 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday. Taxis and livery cars were exempt from the restriction.
"The streets just cannot handle the number of cars that have tried to come in," Bloomberg told a news conference Wednesday.
All four major New York-area airports were in operation, including La LaGuardia, which was shut down until Thursday morning because of severe flooding from Hurricane Sandy.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the first plane landing at LaGuardia was a Delta Air Lines flight from Syracuse, N.Y.
Kennedy, Newark and suburban Stewart International Airport were expected to be at full operations Friday, the Port Authority said.
In New Jersey, which bore the brunt of the storm, most mass transit systems remained shut down.
Gov. Chris Christie said mandatory statewide water restrictions were in effect as a result of power outages from Sandy that sapped water-treatment systems.
Any water use that's not essential will not be allowed, he said in announcing the restrictions late Wednesday.
"Maybe take a little bit of a shorter shower," Christie suggested.
"The most important thing we can do right now for everyone is conserving water,'' he said.
Christie said 12 water-treatment systems across the state issued boil-water advisories.
About a quarter of the state's population -- more than 2 million people -- remained without power early Thursday, and more than 6,000 were still in shelters, state emergency officials said.
At least eight people died, and officials said they feared the toll would rise as additional home searches were carried out.
The total number of deaths attributed to Sandy rose to at least 72, with nearly half in New York City, as authorities identified victims in flooded homes and vehicles.
"Tragically, we expect that number to go up," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday.
Of the deaths, a 23-year-old woman died when she stepped on a downed electrical wire outside her home in Queens, another woman died from hypothermia after spending 12 hours outside in the storm in Pennsylvania, and a 51-year-old man and his 20-year-old son were drowned in the basement of their Staten Island home during a storm surge, CNN reported.
All told, some 6 million households and businesses remained without power across the Northeast, and authorities warned it could take a week or more to restore service for many.
The storm led to power failures in at least 17 states.
In New Jersey, Christie praised President Barack Obama, who traveled to the state Wednesday to survey storm damage.
Christie said he and Obama were "big boys" and their political differences had not stopped them from working together to deal with the storm.
He also said he was aware of the political interest in his sudden alliance with Obama.
"I'm aware of all the atmospherics. I'm not in a coma. But the fact is, I don't care," The New York Times quoted Christie as saying.
"There will be some folks who will criticize me for complimenting him. Well, you know what? I speak the truth. That's what I always do," Christie said.
Obama viewed the destruction with Christie, then met with residents in a community-center shelter set up in Brigantine, 5 miles from Atlantic City.
"The entire country has been watching what's been happening," Obama said. "Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit."
Boardwalks along beaches were blown away. Amusement parks, arcades and restaurants were turned to rubble. Barrier island bridges buckled, keeping residents from inspecting property damage, the Times said.
In Hoboken, N.J., a city of about 50,000 across the Hudson River from Manhattan, thousands of residents remained stranded in apartment buildings Thursday, cut off from help by streets still waist-high in contaminated water.
"This is historic," Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer told The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. "We are trying to reach everyone as quickly as we can."
The number of canceled flights across the United States declined Thursday, with fewer than 600 reported, mostly to New York-area airports, flight monitoring website Flightaware.com said. This compares with 2,899 flights reported canceled Wednesday, 7,074 Tuesday and 7,884 Monday.
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