Sandy: US East Coast Braced For New Storm

Sandy: US East Coast Braced For New Storm

Struggling New Yorkers are being warned to stock up and stay indoors as a new storm threatens to batter the US east coast after Sandy.

A nor'easter with gusts of up to 55mph is expected by Wednesday, bringing the threat of more heavy rain, snow and flooding.

National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina warned: "Prepare for more outages. Stay indoors. Stock up again."

Sky News weather producer Joanna Robinson said: "There's still some uncertainty about the exact path of the storm, but the nor'easter could produce heavy rain, heavy snow and strong winds.

"The new storm wouldn't be as severe as Sandy, but even so it could be an intense storm that will hamper recovery work in areas affected by Sandy - for example strong winds could bring down trees that are already unstable."

Some residents in northern New Jersey still dealing with the impact of Sandy were woken by a 2.0 magnitude earthquake, with some homes reporting shaking or a large boom - but there were no reports of damage.

Large swathes of New York City have been getting back to normal but now face the challenge of thousands of commuters, students and motorists - forced out of their cars by fuel shortages - descending on public transport systems not fully ready for them.

At the same time, government leaders are grappling with a daunting longer-term problem: where to find accommodation for the tens of thousands of people whose homes could be uninhabitable for weeks or months because of a combination of storm damage and cold weather.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 30,000 to 40,000 New Yorkers may need to be relocated - a monumental task in a city where housing is scarce and expensive - though he said that number will probably drop to 20,000 within a couple of weeks as power is restored in more places.

George W Contreras, associate director of the emergency and disaster management programme at Metropolitan College of New York, speculated that large encampments of trailers might be set up at a stadium, in a park or in some other open space in the city - something he couldn't recall being done in New York ever before.

"The amount of actual units the city might have in buildings is probably very limited, so I think people will be in FEMA shelters for a while," he said.

With temperatures already sinking 1C to 4C overnight and hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses still without electricity, people have been sleeping in layers of clothes, and New York City officials handed out blankets and urged victims to go to overnight shelters or daytime warming centres.

In heavily-flooded Staten Island, Sara Zavala spent the night under two blankets and layers of clothing because the power was out. She had a propane heater but only turned it on for a couple of hours in the morning. She did not want to sleep with it running at night.

"When I woke up, I was like, 'It's freezing.' And I thought, 'This can't go on too much longer,'" said Zavala, a nursing home admissions coordinator.

A week after Sandy hit the New Jersey coastline in an assault that killed more than 113 people in the US and Canada, petrol shortages persist across the region and rationing by registration plate got under way in northern New Jersey in an echo of the fuel crisis of the 1970s.

Meanwhile there are concerns that last-minute changes to voting arrangements for the presidential election could provide ammunition to campaign lawyers looking to challenge the result.

In New York City, 143,000 voters have been assigned new polling stations. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday called the city's elections board "dysfunctional" and warned that it needs to clearly communicate changes to poll workers.

In New Jersey, where 25% of homes and businesses have no power, officials are allowing displaced voters to cast their ballots by email.

In battered Monmouth County, officials are spreading the word about new polling locations in at least 29 towns and setting aside paper ballots to use if electronic voting machines fail.

"The devil is in the details and no doubt these news rules will be fertile ground for those who choose to challenge the results in the election," said Angelo Genova, a New Jersey election law expert who represents Democratic candidates in this election.

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