- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Faced with the prospect of days without power and swaths of the city plunged into darkness at night, police brought in banks of lights and boosted patrols to reassure victims of a monster storm that they won’t be victims of crime.

Some prominent galleries in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood hired private security and apartment building superintendents suddenly became guards. In Coney Island, about 100 police officers stood on corners or cruised in cars to guard a strip of vandalized stores and a damaged bank, to the relief of shaken residents.

“We’re feeling OK, but at first we felt worried,” 12-year-old Oleg Kharitmov said Tuesday as he walked his dog with his parents by the bank. “I’m pretty happy that the cops are here.”

The precautions came on a second powerless night after the city was battered by Hurricane Sandy on Monday night and residents grappled with how long it would take to get back to normal — or at least New York’s version of normal.

“Clearly, the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as officials warned that power might not be back until the weekend for hundreds of thousands of people accustomed to a life carried by subway, lit by skyline and powered by 24-hour deli.

While some bus service resumed and some bridges reopened at midday, transit officials said they couldn’t predict when the subway would run again after suffering the worst damage in its 108-year history.

The storm’s deadly impact grew grimly clearer as the worst of it moved off: The death toll rose to 18 in the city, including two people who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment. A fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens, while firefighters used boats to rescue people in chest-high water.

There was little sign of a crime wave, although police made multiple arrests in the city Monday and Tuesday, officials said. Charges included burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing. In one incident, three men were arrested on burglary charges after they struck a Radio Shack in Rockaway Beach, Queens, on Tuesday morning.

As night fell, nerves frayed.

Yvique Bastien waited outside an apartment complex with her two sons, her daughter, 4-month old grandchild and a pushcart full of supplies, hoping to get a ride to a relative’s home from a member of her church. With the power out, it wasn’t safe to stay, she said.

“We don’t know what can happen to us,” she said.

In Chelsea, residents strolled down darkening streets with no lights, while traffic police tried to manage major intersections.

Roberto Pineta stood in front of the apartment building where he works as superintendent, saying he took it upon himself to keep residents safe by sitting in a chair inside the front entrance, day and night, sleeping only a few hours at a time. Candles lit the entrance to a nearby apartment building where another superintendent and his staff were putting in extra hours while power is out.

“It’s a little disconcerting to be in the dark, but I feel safe — these guys are great,” Stacey Vuolo said as she headed to her brother-in-law’s nearby apartment, which at least had cold water for a shower.

On West 24th Street, generators lit up the Andrea Rosen gallery, which had hired private security.

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