20TH UPDATE, 2:50 PM: Refresh for latest… About 1.9 million homes and businesses remained without power today, down from 8.5 million across the East immediately after the storm. More than half of those still without power are in New Jersey. About 84% of New York City’s subway system should be restored by Monday morning. Electricity is back on for most if not all of Manhattan, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, and power has been restored to much of the rest of New York City. Resumption of electric service means that most movie theaters have reopened up and down the East Coast and studios tell Deadline that business is booming.
Meanwhile, as temperatures fall toward freezing NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today that 30,000 to 40,000 people in the city alone would need housing. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said federal agencies are looking for apartments and hotel rooms for people displaced by Sandy. Some people have been reluctant to leave their homes because of scattered looting. “People are in homes that are uninhabitable,” Cuomo said today. “People don’t like to leave their home, but the reality is going to be in the temperature.” About 5.8 million homes in the East rely on heating oil, and distribution has nearly collapsed in some of the hardest hit areas. New York area distributors have already been forced to ration supplies. Officials also fretted that displaced residents would not be able to vote in Tuesday’s Presidential election. Scores of voting centers were rendered useless by the record surge of seawater in New York and New Jersey.
On Friday night, NBC’s commercial-free live one-hour benefit telethon Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together included Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Christina Aguilera and Mary J. Blige in a blend of music, storm footage and calls for donations from Jon Stewart, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny DeVito and others. (You can watch it here) Matt Lauer hosted the show that was carried across several NBC networks including USA, MSNBC, E! and by HBO, Discovery’s Fit & Health and Velocity networks and The Weather Channel as well. Jimmy Fallon gamely led an all-star performance of the Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” that featured Joel, Springsteen and Steven Tyler who also delivered an emotional “Dream On”. Sting performed an equally passionate acoustic version of The Police hit “Message In a Bottle” and its promise to “send an SOS to the world.” Springsteen and the E Street Band closed the show with “Land Of Hope and Dreams”. Ironically, millions of people for whom the benefit was organized couldn’t watch because they still had no electricity. Separately, ABC has planned Monday, November 5 as Day of Giving across its network and syndicated programming to encourage viewers to help those impacted by the storm.
As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie imposed gasoline rationing, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said 8 million gallons had been unloaded from commercial tankers and another 28 million gallons would go into distribution terminals over the weekend. He also said the Defense Department was sending 12 million gallons of fuel to be pumped from five mobile stations. The gas initially was to be free and limited to 10 gallons per recipient. But after citizens swarmed the mobile units, the gas was cut off and reserved mainly for emergency workers. Officials pointed out that the extra 28 million gallons en route to New York should ease any continuing shortages.