NEW YORK - Pockets of frustration among cold and hungry residents festered Friday in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, even as other areas sputtered back to life.
The biggest challenges in places like New Jersey and Staten Island -- where the majority of New York's storm-related deaths were recorded -- include food and electricity shortages.
Across 15 states and the District of Columbia, utilities reported that about 3.3 million customers remained without power. Some may stay in the dark for at least another week, reported area utility companies PSE&G and LIPA, the Long Island Power Authority.
People shivered, their heads peeking out from bulky sweatshirts, waiting hours at stations to fill their gas cans.
In New Jersey, where people are not allowed to pump their own gas, Gov. Chris Christie ordered odd-even rationing for purchases in 12 counties, with the hopeful goals of cutting lines and preventing a fuel shortage.
People in the affected counties with a license plate ending in an even number will be able to purchase fuel on even numbered days; the opposite being true for people with plates ending in an odd number.
Staten Island resident Nick Camerada described the storm and how the situation has worsened for him since it struck.
"The water was so high. It was up to this part of the door," he said, pointing to a spot above his waist.
"I couldn't get into the door. I went around the side of the house and I stood on a box that was floating, and I went through the window to get back in the house with my family."
Camerada, his wife and four sons scrambled to an upper floor. The first floor of their house flooded.
Thinking he had survived the worst, Camerada, who had a small engine repair business in his side yard, said he was hit again -- this time, by looters.
"I wake up this morning. They pushed my shed open and went through all my tools. I got nothing. ... There's nothing in the drawers but handprints," he said on Friday.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who toured the area Thursday, described conditions as grim.
"This is the worst thing I've ever seen, and it's killing me what these people have to go through," said the New York Democrat. "We'll get whatever federal help we can, that's for sure."
Four days had passed since Sandy hit, and survivors pleaded for basic necessities.
Help arrived Thursday night and into Friday in the form of 30 Red Cross trucks filled with food, water and medicine, while nearly 7,000 people spent the night in Red Cross shelters across the region.
The aid group said a massive feeding operation is under way on Long Island and across the Tri-State area, where residents continue to face food shortages.
Some $18 million in federal relief aid has been disbursed so far in the wake of the storm. Much of it is in the form of rental assistance, which can extend for up to 18 months for those with major home damage.
"A lot of folks who flooded did not have flood insurance," said Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate. "The lessons (we) learned from the past is not to wait to see how bad it is."
On Friday, Air Force planes began carrying 632 tons of equipment and supplies, including 69 vehicles, from California to the New York region.
Elsewhere, signs of recovery sprouted: trains grinding back to limited service, buses hauling commuters down roads strewn with debris.
Neighborhoods were rising up after being beaten down by a 900-mile-wide superstorm that claimed at least 106 lives in the United States, two in Canada and 67 in the Caribbean.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino traveled to Staten Island on Friday to survey recovery efforts.
"We know that Staten Island took a particularly hard hit from Sandy," said Napolitano. "We want to make sure that the right resources are brought here as quickly as possible."
Ahead of her visit, Napolitano issued a temporary waiver of the Jones Act, a move that allows oil tankers coming in from the Gulf of Mexico to enter Northeastern ports to relieve fuel shortages.
"The administration's highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, and this waiver will remove a potential obstacle to bringing additional fuel to the storm-damaged region," she said.
The move also waives clean air admission requirements, allowing more refined oil to be brought into the region, though where it goes from there is unclear.
"Just getting the product there doesn't get it to the retail site," said Fugate. "Many of the gas stations don't have power."
Worst-hit New York state suffered 48 deaths, including 41 in New York City, authorities said. Twenty of the dead were killed in Staten Island, where the latest deaths included two boys ages 4 and 2, ripped from their mother's arms by floodwater.
In addition to the human toll, the price for damage is stunning: between $30 billion and $50 billion, according to disaster modeling firm EQECAT.
That far exceeds EQECAT's pre-storm estimate