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In New York City, More Signs Of Normal As Schools Reopen After Sandy

Commuters disembark the Staten Island Ferry one week after Superstorm Sandy crashed into the metropolitan area.
John Minchillo
Commuters disembark the Staten Island Ferry one week after Superstorm Sandy crashed into the metropolitan area.

Some schools don't have heat. Others are serving their students shelf-safe milk.

But today, most of New York City's 1,700 schools reopened for the first time since Sandy devastated the northeast. NPR's Margot Adler has been working her way through Manhattan. She visited PS-41 in Greenwich Village and reports everything was great. But then, as she walked west on Houston St. all the way to East River, she stopped by Bard High School Early College.

That's one of the more than 60 schools that remained shuttered Margot says she didn't see any students there, instead it was full of clean-up crews. The basement, Margot said, is still full of water and debris.

"It was clear that the school was not going to open" for a couple of days, said Margot.

The New York Times went to PS-2 in Chinatown. The power was on, they report, but the heat was not.

The Times reports:

"'We expect to carry on as usual,' said the acting interim principal, Bessie Ng. She had e-mailed teachers telling them to dress warmly. 'The students normally come with many layers,' she added. If they don't, the staff will find something warm for them, Ms. Ng said.

"Lunch was an issue, too. Because power was out, food in the freezer had to be thrown out. Ms. Ng expected a delivery for student meals shortly. 'A number of teachers brought in food, just in case,' she said."

The Associated Press reports that today was really the first day of a major commute. The good thing, however, is that some of the subway lines connecting New York City to the outer boroughs across the East River were restored.

The AP reports:

"In Jersey City, investment advisor Barbara Colucci, was traveling from a house without power and the family's car was low on fuel because of persistent gasoline shortages.

"'I can't wait until the PATH and light rail are up and running again, but first I'd like power in my house quite honestly,' she said. 'We're sleeping on air mattresses but we have heat so we can't complain but I'd like to get back to a bed — it's been awhile — and back to a regular commute.'"

But those are small potatoes. There are places where there is still a life-or-death struggle happening. Reuters estimates that 1.4 million homes and businesses are still without power.

And take a look at this video produced by The New York Times from Rockaway Beach in Queens. Perhaps one of the more heartbreaking aspects is the story of an elderly woman, heating her apartment with a stove and waiting desperately for water and electricity to be restored:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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