Some Sandy victims still without heat as blizzard descends on New York City

Liz Goodwin

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday told residents still without heat from October's Superstorm Sandy to seek shelter elsewhere as a massive snowstorm threatens to dump up to 13 inches on the city's boroughs.

The city is under a blizzard warning until 1 p.m. Saturday, and the National Weather Service warned winds could gust up to 60 miles per hour as a potentially record-setting storm blasts through on its way to New England.

"If your house has been damaged by Sandy and still without heat, call 311 and we'll be certain to find you shelter," Bloomberg said at a press conference Friday afternoon, referencing the city's helpline. The mayor also warned that the city's coastal areas could see a storm surge, though nothing rivaling the 10-foot surge that flooded thousands of New York homes in October.

As of Feb. 7, the city was still working to restore heat, hot water, and/or power to 690 residential buildings, after completing repairs on 10,255 buildings since the storm hit. Many of these homes are clustered in hard-hit areas like the Rockaways in Queens, and in Staten Island. About a fifth of the residents in the Rockaways were still without heat in early January, according to a report released by a local nonprofit called New York Communities for Change.

Olivia Leirer, a spokeswoman for New York Communities for Change, said some of the tenants had since gotten their heat turned back on, due to a city program called Rapid Repairs.

Devon Lawrence, a homeowner in Far Rockaway, told Yahoo News his boiler was just repaired two weeks ago by Rapid Repairs, ending the nearly three-month period he lived in his home, along with his 75-year-old mother, without heat.

Lawrence stocked up on salt on Friday ahead of the blizzard and bought some extra kerosene oil as backup. "I'm only hoping that whatever happened in Sandy doesn't repeat itself this time," he said. "It was really miserable [living without heat]. Words cannot describe the feeling."

A coalition of nonprofit workers in Staten Island are trying to convince people still living in unheated homes to seek shelter as well, reported.

Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) extended hotel stays for displaced Sandy victims to Feb. 24.

For those who waited weeks or months for power after Sandy, the possibility of more outages looms. Utility companies warned on Friday that it's possible that areas with above-ground power lines will again be hit with electricity outages.

Bloomberg, who has deployed 1,700 snowplows and 450 salt spreaders to scour the city, says he hopes the impact of Sandy just 100 days ago will mean the city and its residents are prepared for the storm. "Sandy is so fresh in our minds," he said.