Mayor Bloomberg says parks and beaches to close as new storm approaches New York city

Tuesday 06 November 2012 23.45
A woman sits next to her bed in a Red Cross evacuation shelter
A woman sits next to her bed in a Red Cross evacuation shelter

New York city's parks and beaches will be closed at 12pm tomorrow for at least 24 hours as a new storm system approaches.

It comes just over a week after superstorm Sandy devastated the region with widespread flooding and wind damage, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this evening.

"We just don't need to send our first responders into the ocean to save someone who is being foolish," Mr Bloomberg said.

Mr Bloomberg also said city officials would try to evacuate residents from some low-lying waterfront neighbourhoods tomorrow when the nor'easter is forecast to strike the region.

He emphasised that tomorrow's evacuations, designed to coincide with high tides when the storm surge would be highest, would not be as widespread as the mandatory evacuations of large parts of the city ordered before Sandy hit last week.

Earlier, he appointed a commissioner to lead the city's housing recovery effort.

Mr Bloomberg said it was the top priority as the city faced colder weather and the impending storm.

Brad Gair, a former Federal Emergency Management Agency official, will co-ordinate temporary housing for those whose homes were damaged by Superstorm Sandy a week ago.

Mr Bloomberg said that about 10,000 people now needed emergency shelter, far fewer than the figure of 40,000 he gave on Sunday.

The government has ordered the suspension of some housing foreclosures in areas hit by Sandy and said it would help find hotels and motels to temporarily house people displaced by the storm.

"We don't want families to be victimised twice - once by the storm and once by a foreclosure," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said.

He said he directed all Federal Housing Administration lenders to impose a moratorium on any foreclosures for 90 days in disaster-affected areas.

The FHA backs about a third of all new mortgages in the United States.

Sandy hit the east coast on 29 October, with New Jersey and New York badly hit as it killed more than 100 people. Thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged.

With the weather getting colder, the government is trying to get disaster victims out of shelters and into hotels and motels while it searches for longer-term solutions, such as rental apartments.

The hotel and motel rooms will be paid for by the government under the FEMA programme for temporarily sheltering people, called Transitional Shelter Assistance.

This is not the same programme that supplied FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.

The trailers traditionally have been considered more of a last resort, for disaster victims whose needs cannot be met through home repair or rental units, the Congressional Research Service said in a report about Katrina.

The government is also trying to rush rental assistance to Sandy victims who qualify, Mr Donovan said.

More than 32,000 applicants have been approved for expedited rental assistance for a total so far of $95m (€74m) in aid, he added.

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