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Up to 40,000 New Yorkers Left Homeless After Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Says

By  Julie  Shapiro and Jill Colvin | November 4, 2012 12:03pm | Updated on November 4, 2012 7:44pm

NEW YORK — Hurricane Sandy left up to 40,000 New Yorkers homeless, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.

The storm devastated neighborhoods from Staten Island to the Rockaways, flooding thousands of homes and cutting electricity to hundreds of thousands more — and now officials are scrambling to find housing for those who were affected.

There are 30,000 to 40,000 people "we're going to have to find housing for," Bloomberg said in hurricane briefing Sunday morning.

Large public housing complexes are among the damaged properties, with 108 buildings in 17 developments still lacking power, officials said.

"Some of NYCHA's buildings are going to be out of commission for a very long time," Bloomberg said.

He later added, "These are public housing projects where sand or water got into boilers and the whole electrical system was destroyed."

NYCHA is "feverishly work[ing] to power-up boilers and electricity today to see where we might have longer-term challenges," the agency said in a statement. 

In two weeks, Bloomberg expects the number of people who are displaced to fall to about 20,000, he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is imperative to find housing for those who need it, especially as the temperature plummets.  

"This is going to be a massive, massive housing problem," Cuomo said Sunday.

About 145,000 households still do not have power in New York City, including 86,000 in Queens, 20,000 in Brooklyn, 20,000 on Staten Island, 12,000 in The Bronx and 7,000 in Manhattan.

"It's starting to get cold," Cuomo said. "People are in homes that are uninhabitable. It's going to become increasingly clear they are uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn't come on."

Sen. Chuck Schumer added that since the cost of housing is especially high in New York City, and neighborhoods like Staten Island have few hotels, FEMA may have to allocate additional money to get people the help they need.  

Across the region, 86,000 households have already registered for federal assistance, FEMA said.