NEW YORK -- The patchy recovery from Hurricane Sandy exposed a fractured region Saturday. The lights flickered on in Manhattan neighborhoods that had been dark for days, and New York's subways rumbled and screeched through East River tunnels again.
But in shorefront stretches of New York City's Staten Island and Queens boroughs that were all but demolished, and in broad sections of New Jersey and Long Island, gasoline was still almost impossible to come by, electricity was still lacking, temperatures were dropping and worried homeowners wondered when help would finally arrive.
Drivers in New Jersey faced 1970s-style gasoline rationing imposed by Gov. Chris Christie, while in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the Defense Department would distribute free fuel from five mobile stations. But that effort backfired when too many people showed up.
It was a weekend of contrasts: Crowds streamed into city parks that reopened on a blindingly bright Saturday morning, while people who had been displaced by the storm said help was not coming fast enough and the desperation was growing.
In many places that the storm pounded in its relentless push into the Northeast, there was a profound sense of isolation, with whole towns on Long Island still cut off from basic information, supplies and electricity. People in washed-out neighborhoods said they felt increasingly desperate.
Hundreds of thousands of homes on Long Island were still without power Saturday, and frustration with the utilities, particularly Long Island Power Authority, continued to rise.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said most public schools would reopen Monday, only to close again Tuesday for Election Day.
He said that building inspectors still had to check some 55,000 buildings in the low-lying areas that he ordered evacuated before the storm struck.
Utility crews from across the country struggled with a power network that had been battered.
As they went from town to town and block to block, they trimmed trees and freed cables that had toppled in winds that approached 80 mph. Despite nonstop work, the numbers were daunting. In New Jersey, Public Service Electric and Gas still had more than 600,000 customers without power Saturday.
Hoboken remained the biggest challenge because of extensive water damage, officials said.
Mr. Cuomo said that in New York, 60 percent of those who lost power in the storm had had it restored, but that 900,000 were still in the dark.
On Long Island, where 1.2 million people lost power, about 550,000 had their power back by Saturday morning.