NEW YORK - Life regained some semblance of normalcy on Thursday for New Yorkers affected by superstorm Sandy, as public transportation started to come online and millions of people returned to work. But for those hardest hit by Sandy, the National Guard delivered ready-to-eat meals and bottled water.
New Yorkers are known for their toughness and sometimes their testiness. But on Thursday, despite long lines for buses from the borough of Brooklyn to Manhattan, most New Yorkers were in a good mood. On average, commuters waited half an hour for free buses to take them to a central Manhattan drop-off point where they could then reach their final destinations through a combination of local buses, limited subway service and walking.
Erlene was among the thousands of people trying to make it into work. She said the bus line was moving slowly, but no one was complaining.
“It's just going nicely, everybody is doing well, no complaints. Thank you MTA [i.e., Mass Transit Authority]. In times like these, we do come together,” she said.
Tony, a staffer at the ESPN sports television channel, said he was trying to make it to the west side of Manhattan. He had been waiting about 45 minutes, but was philosophical about the inconvenience.
“It's all right. Considering what we went through and what others are going through, the MTA is doing a great job,” he said.
On New York's Staten Island, which was hard-hit by the storm, ferry service remained suspended. Authorities recovered four more bodies on the island Thursday, including two young brothers who had been swept from their home by the storm surge.
Nearly two million New Jersey residents are still without power as they struggle to recover from Sandy. Their train system is not operating yet as the state awaits new rail cars to be flown in by the Department of Defense to replace ones that were lost or damaged in the storm.
In New York, taxi driver Lal worried that there could be fuel shortages.
“I'm worried about the gas today. There is no gas. The gas stations are closed. All, most, of the gas stations are closed. If no gas, maybe no working tomorrow,” Lal said.
As some New Yorkers struggle to recover from the storm, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged residents to look out for one another.
“If you know there is a person down the hall, a senior citizen down the hall, if you know there's a family who might need help down the hall, walk down the hall, knock on the door and say is there anything I can do?,” Cuomo said.
Along with restarting New York's mass transit system, restoring electricity is the city's top priority. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says more than half a million residents are without power, down from a peak of 750,000.
Consolidated Edison, the company that supplies power to the city, says residents in Midtown and Lower Manhattan will have their electricity restored by Saturday. For others, the wait could be much longer.
Some Lower Manhattan residents, like Michael Victor, are doubtful that power will be back on by Saturday.
“I have hope, but I'm skeptical,” Victor said.
Mayor Bloomberg says that city parks will reopen early Saturday and that public schools will be open on Monday. He says there have been few arrests for looting and no murders in the city during the past two days, dispelling fears that crime would rise in the storm's aftermath.
There are other signs that life is slowly returning to normal. Many shops and businesses have reopened, and shelves were being restocked. Area airports resumed more operations on Thursday, and it was announced that the New York City Marathon will go on as scheduled on Sunday. The United Nations also reopened after severe flooding caused the world body to close its sprawling East River complex for three days.