Almost one week after superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast with its ferocious force, power was still out to some 2.5 million customers due to damages, down from 3.5 million on Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability claimed.
Tthe state with the largest number of outages by far is still New Jersey with 32 percent of customers without power, it said it a report.
And as the lights begin to flicker on in Lower Manhattan, nine percent of customers across the state of New York still do not have power, followed by seven percent in Connecticut.
Artist Konstantin Bokov gets water to boil for drinking from an old fire hrydrant at Rockaway Beach, New York on November 3, 2012. He has no power, and no running water
Julie Traina tries to recover some personal items from the destroyed home of her parents in Staten Island
A sign is seen outside a home in Long Beach in Long Island on November 2 gives a dire warning to would-be looters
A warning message seen written on a door to keep away looters in a street in Freeport, Long Island as they try to return to normalcy following the hurricane
People walk through the heavily damaged Rockaway neighborhood in Queens where a large section of the iconic boardwalk was washed away
Two women look into the window of a flooded deli while searching for food in Coney Island, four days after Sandy
A boy watches as members of the U.S. Army National Guard unload food and supplies in the Rockaways section of Queens
This comes as residents of the Rockaways in Queens continued to struggle without power, heat or food for a sixth day as their neighborhood slowly descended into chaos.
‘It’s chaos; it’s pandemonium out here,’ said Chris Damon, who had been waiting for 3.5 hours at the site and had circled the block five times. “It seems like nobody has any answers.”
Added Damon: ‘I feel like a victim of Hurricane Katrina. I never thought it could happen here in New York, but it’s happened.’
With little police presence on the storm-ravaged streets, many residents of the peninsula have been forced to take their protection into their own hands, arming themselves with guns, baseball bats and even bows and arrows to ward off thugs seeking to loot their homes.
It has been reported that crooks have been disguising themselves as Long Island Power Authority workers and coming by homes on the peninsula in the middle of the night while real utility workers were nowhere to be found.
‘We booby-trapped our door and keep a baseball bat beside our bed,’ Danielle Harris, 34, told the New York Daily News.
The woman added that she has been hearing gunshots likely fired in the nearby housing project for three nights in a row.
Meanwhile, local surfer Keone Singlehurst said that he stockpiled knives, a machete and a bow and arrow.
‘I would take a looter with a bow if a felt threatened I would definitely use it,’ he said. ‘It’s like the wild west. A borderline lawless situation.’
City Councilman James Sanders said he fears that things are going to get even worse.
‘We have an explosive mix here,’ he said. ‘People will take matters into their own hands.’
Sanders has directed much of his anger and frustration at LIPA, calling on the City Council to investigate the utility for ignoring the Rockaways for so long.
‘LIPA has failed the people of the Rockaways,’ he said. ‘It’s a question of class… serving the richer areas of Long Island and ignoring the Rockaways.’
Collins Wimbish cooks food over a fire in a barrel in the Rockaways neighborhood of Queens
People charge cell phones at a police generator in Rockaways
This Rockaways boardwalk that was pushed off of its pilings by storm surge
Large areas of New York outside Manhattan are still without power or functioning stores to buy food and water following Hurricane Sandy
A silhouetted man walks past a strip of destroyed buildings in Rockaways
A man makes a phone call next to discarded storm garbage in Coney Island Friday
Walter Meyer, 37, told the Daily News that the Rockaways of today bears little resemblance to the peaceful place where he has surfed so many times in the past.
A toy dog wearing a military helmet sits atop a car holding a sing warning off looters in a resident’s driveway in the Rockaways
‘After sunset everyone locks their doors,’ he said. ‘They’re trying to find whatever weapons they can find. Some people are even using bows and arrows.’
Along with mounting safety concerns, homeowners in the beachfront community hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, that have left 109 dead, continued to face hunger, complaining that federal officials have left them to fend for themselves.
‘Rockaways always get left over,’ said Meyer. ‘It’s treated like a marginalized land in the city.’
Most of the grocery stores in the area have not reopened since the storm, and the neighborhood has been left cut off from the rest of the city, with no trains or even shuttle buses servicing the residents.
Stranded neighbors largely have been relying on volunteers delivering food, water and other basic necessities while the Red Cross and FEMA were still nowhere in sight.
‘We can’t exist,’ said Ann Manning. ‘We can’t buy milk. We can’t buy cereal. We can’t buy nothing.’
As they scrape around desperately for food and are forced to use their gas to keep warm, many claim they are the forgotten victims of Sandy.
The Borough President of Staten Island called the reaction of Red Cross – or lack thereof – to the devastation caused by Sandy an ‘absolute disgrace’.
Marina Sverdlov talks to a real estate broker while standing in her flood ravaged home in Staten Island
Boats pushed up by Hurricane Sandy lie against residences next to a marina on Staten Island as a man walks his dog
A sign about the marathon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is displayed in a devastated section of Staten Island, before the marathon was canceled
People eat soup at a donation and distribution center in the Rockaways, though residents are complaining there is not enough assistance for them
Emilio Langilotti of Staten Island carries food from a FEMA and American Red Cross aid and disaster relief station in the borough
James Molinaro went as far as to tell people not to donate to the charity because when push came to shove, the group just didn’t deliver when Staten Island needed them the most.
He’s remained there ever since the hurricane struck and gave his first-hand account of the devastation.
‘It’s so bad here, a lot worse than how its being portrayed by the media.,’ he said.
‘They are finding bodies left and right, elderly people who don’t even watch the news or who knew the storm was coming. I was just with one of my best friends from high school and college, and his house is completely gone.
‘I know this island in and out. To see it completely destroyed is bizarre.
‘I’ve been trying to hit every shelter on Staten Island to do what I can, just to make people smile. A lot of people know me and know I’m from here.’
‘My advice to the people of Staten Island is do not donate to the American Red Cross,’ said Mr Molinaro. ‘Let them get their money elsewhere.’
‘It’s an absolute disgrace in a county that has always responded to disasters all over the world,’ he said.
‘Katrina – we sent them down four trailer loads of food, water and one trailer load of generators. No one’s responding to us.’
Residents are pleading for help as they fear their devastated neighborhoods are being ignored.
In a Coney Island apartment block, where tenants huddle together in one room and human waste spills out of the toilet, tenant Jeffery Francis despairs that help is not getting to Brooklyn faster.
‘We are scavenging for food like animals,’ he told the New York Daily News. ‘We are in a crisis and no one will help us. Look at us. We are misery. Everyone cares about Manhattan. No one is looking out for us. Nothing.’
At another apartment where power is still out, residents are out of food and praying for help. Albert Miller, 58, told the paper: ‘One person found a sandwich and we split it four ways.’
While power was likely returned to Manhattan’s East and West Villages, Financial District, Chelsea, Chinatown and the Lower East Side by the weekend, according to the power company, Con Edison, outages in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island are not expected to be repaired for another week.
Across Staten Island residents are also increasingly frustrated they are being passed over while other parts of New York and New Jersey receive aid and attention.
Residents were furious the island was being prepared as the starting line for Sunday’s marathon, while hundreds are left hungry and one resident there told CBS station WCBS, ‘We’re gonna die! We’re gonna freeze! We’ve got 90-year-old people without homes in the wake of the superstorm!’
Natvel Pritchard, of Staten Island, told CBS News, ‘Though people don’t talk about Staten Island much, people are here, a lot of people are hurting, so it’s upsetting.’
Alexandra Lopez, 7, looks out the window of the Staten Island Ferry on November 2
The half of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge attached to Brooklyn is lit while the half attached to Staten Island is dark last night
Homes across Brooklyn and Coney Island are some of the worst hit in the wake of the superstorm.
Many houses shattered into piles of bricks and splintered planks at Coney Island, while others stand waterlogged and abandoned.
Mounds of debris can be seen in the massively damaged Rockaway neighborhood
Jeff Kulikowski sits on a bench on the boardwalk that was pushed off of its pilings by storm surge in the Rockaways
One gated community at the tip of the island, Seagate, was particularly badly hit, with some houses entirely washed away or flattened.
For power companies, the scale of destruction was unmatched – more widespread than any blizzard or ice storm and worse than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
‘It’s unprecedented: fallen trees, debris, the roads, water, snow. It’s a little bit of everything,’ said Brian Wolff, senior vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, a group that lobbies for utilities.
Initially, about 60 million people were without power in 8.2 million homes and businesses.
By Wednesday night, that number had fallen to roughly 44 million people in 6 million households and businesses and today around 3.6 million are without power.