NEW YORK — Shivering victims of Superstorm Sandy went to church yesterday to pray for deliverance as cold weather settling in across the New York metropolitan region — and another powerful storm forecast for the middle of the week — added to their misfortunes and deepened the gloom.
With overnight temperatures sinking into the 30s and hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses still without electricity six days after Sandy howled through, people slept in layers of clothes, and New York City officials handed out blankets and urged victims to go to overnight shelters or daytime warming centers.
At the same time, government leaders began to grapple with a daunting longer-term problem: where to find housing for the tens of thousands of people whose homes could be uninhabitable for weeks or months because of a combination of storm damage and cold weather.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 30,000 to 40,000 New Yorkers may need to be relocated — a monumental task in a city where housing is scarce and expensive — though he said that number will probably drop to 20,000 within a couple of weeks as power is restored in more places.
In a heavily flooded Staten Island neighborhood, Sara Zavala spent the night under two blankets and layers of clothing because the power was out. She had a propane heater but turned it on for only a couple of hours in the morning. She did not want to sleep with it running at night.
“When I woke up, I was like, ‘It’s freezing.’ And I thought, ‘This can’t go on too much longer,’” said Zavala, a nursing home admissions coordinator.
Nearly a week after Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline in an assault that killed more than 100 people in 10 states, gasoline shortages persisted across the region, though odd-even rationing got under way in northern New Jersey in an echo of the gas crisis of the 1970s. Nearly 1 million homes and businesses were still without power in New Jersey, and about 650,000 in New York City, its northern suburbs and Long Island.