ABC News’ Alyssa Newcomb and Sydney Lupkin report:
Five days after Superstorm Sandy downed power lines, flooded homes and crippled transportation in the Northeast, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said his state is “returning to a new normal,” despite a looming nor’easterthis week that could bring further damage to the devastated area.
“I can do lots of things, I can’t change the weather,” Christie said today.
Nearly all New Jersey state roads have been cleared, Christie said, though a new storm would be more trouble for the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in the middle of this week.
Homes without power and plunging temperatures remain a problem for more than two million people. Nearly a million are powerless in New Jersey at last count.
A steadfast Christie said he would continue to use gentle persuasion on the power companies to restore electricity for residents.
“We will get this done,” he said.
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The storm could bring temperatures as low as the 20s and “strong gusty winds,” rain and coastal flooding, according to the National Weather Service.
With overnight temperatures dropping, the 874,000 customers without power in New York state, most of them in New York City, Long Island and the northern suburbs, were urged to go to shelters for heat. The city also planned to hand out blankets to residents who refuse to leave their homes despite the lack of power and heat.
“I spoke with many people who were worried and frustrated and cold,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “There is no power there and temperatures are dropping. Even those who have generators are having a hard time getting fuel.”
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Five days after Sandy, dangers still lurk in the cleanup process.
A sanitation worker was taken to the hospital after being shocked by a downed power line today, Bloomberg said.
“There is still danger out there,” Bloomberg said.
Adding to the anguish are fuel shortages and long lines at gas stations.
It’s a short-term issue, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today, “but that does not mean there will be a total alleviation of the problem in the immediate future.”
Gov. Christie signed an executive orderFriday night to ration gasoline for cars in 12 New Jersey counties, after more than half the stations in New Jersey and Long Island shut down because of the storm, resulting in hours-long lines for customers and threatening a gas shortage. Under Christie’s order, car owners with odd numbered license plates can get gas on odd days, and car owners with even numbered license plates can get gasoline on even days. If one’s license ends with a letter, Christie said it would be regarded as an odd number would be.
“This system will ease the strain on those gas stations still operating, while we work to bring more online for the public to access fuel, in a manner that is fair, easy to understand, and less stressful,” Christie said.
First responders were given free fuel by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA said it also sold gasoline to filling stations in some places.
Christie met today with Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to review recovery efforts in the ravaged areas.
Schools will open in New York City on Monday, but because of storm damage, some students will have schedule changes or be bused to different schools.
Bloomberg urged parents to make sure their children have extra sweaters since some schools may not have heat.
The long commute between boroughs has also been eased, with Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees working around the clock to restore 80 percent of the New York subway system. All subway lines except the G train are now running to some extent, according to the MTA website.
“This is a major step forward in the resumption of regular subway service in New York City,” Cuomo said. “Once again, subway customers have a direct link between Brooklyn and Manhattan, giving them a fast and reliable way to get to their jobs, their schools and their homes.”
Bloomberg urged people to prepare for a busy commute to work.
New Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor, which extends from Trenton to New York Penn Station, was operational on Friday after a week-long service suspension.
Three commuter lines, including the Raritan Valley line, New Jersey Coast line, and the Main/Port Jervis line are offering limited service.
The Atlantic City Line resumed normal service today, operating between Atlantic City and Philadelphia.