(NEW YORK) — A ferocious nor’easter storm could wreak more havoc on areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy, as plunging temperatures threaten the nearly two million homes and businesses that remain without power in the Northeast.
The nor’easter is expected to hit on Wednesday in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Temperatures could drop into the 20s and bring “strong gusty winds,” rain and coastal flooding, according to a National Weather Service forecast.
With overnight temperatures dropping, the 874,000 customers without power in New York State, most 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.”
Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, was visiting New Jersey Sunday and meeting with local officials, including Gov. Chris Christie, to review recovery efforts in the ravaged areas.
Adding to the anguish are fuel shortages and long lines at gas stations.
It’s a short-term issue, Cuomo said today, “but “that does not mean there will be a total alleviation of the problem in the immediate future.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order Friday 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.
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.
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.”
The subway returned to limited service Thursday after Sandy crippled transit between the five boroughs on Monday, prompting the Metropolitan Transit Authority to call it the most severe flooding the subway system has seen in 108 years. With Manhattan-Brooklyn subways out of service, commuters waited in long lines to take shuttle buses across the East River to work.
New Jersey Transit’s Northeast Corridor, which extends from Trenton Transit Center to New York Penn Station, was operational on Friday after a week-long service suspension. The remaining NJT lines are still suspended.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire