In the worst case scenario, as many as 40,000 New Yorkers were left homeless in the wake of Sandy’s destruction, said Department of Housing and Urban Development figures, according to the New York Times.
A more realistic assessment may be 20,000 people, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and most of them are residents of public housing.
The city is currently scrambling to find shelter for those displaced by last week's storm.
“We don’t have a lot of empty housing in this city,” Bloomberg said on Sunday, according to the Times. “We are not going to let anybody go sleeping in the streets or go without blankets, but it’s a challenge, and we’re working on that as fast as we can.”
Most people could be housed in hotels or apartments, said FEMA director Craig Fugate, but evacuations at public housing complexes were causing confusion.
“They tell us we might evacuate,” Gloria Evans, a resident of Hammel Houses in the Rockaways told the Times. “Are they going to help us? They can’t just move everyone out and have no place to put them,” she said.
The onset of freezing temperatures did nothing to aid those without a warm place to stay—Sunday evening temperatures fell to the 30s, according to the National Weather Service. In response, New York City opened heating shelters and on Sunday, officials were passing out blankets to residents without electricity.
At the very least, says the paper, the gas shortage is easing. According to numbers released late Sunday by the Energy Department, only 27 percent of the gas stations in the New York metropolitan area reported to be out of fuel, down from 67 percent on Friday.