Sandy bears down on East Coast
Oct 29, 2012 / 2:30 pm
Hurricane Sandy wheeled toward land as forecasters feared Monday, raking cities along the U.S. Northeast with rain and wind gusts, flooding shore towns, putting the presidential campaign on hold and threatening to cripple Wall Street and New York City's subway system with a huge surge of corrosive seawater.
By midday, the storm was picking up speed and was expected to blow ashore in New Jersey or Delaware early in the evening, hours sooner than previously expected. Forecasters warned it would combine with two other weather systems - a wintry storm from the west and cold air rushing in from the Arctic - to create an epic superstorm.
From Washington to Boston, subways, buses, trains and schools were shut down across the region of more than 50 million people. Amtrak cancelled all train service cross the Northeast through Tuesday, while airlines cancelled 10,000 flights, disrupting the plans of travellers all over the world.
Hundreds of thousands of people were under orders to move to higher ground. The storm knocked out electricity to more than 1 million people, and storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney suspended their campaigning with just over a week to go before Election Day.
At the White House, Obama made a direct appeal to those in harm's way: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm."
The storm washed away a section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey. Water was splashing over the seawalls at the southern tip of Manhattan.
A construction crane atop a luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Residents in surrounding buildings were ordered to move to lower floors and the streets below were cleared, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Wall Street expected to remain closed on Tuesday. The United Nations cancelled all meetings at its New York headquarters.
Authorities warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot (3-meter) onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower Manhattan, flood the subways and damage the underground network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial capital.
"Leave immediately. Conditions are deteriorating very rapidly, and the window for you getting out safely is closing," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told those in low-lying areas.
Defiant New Yorkers jogged, pushed strollers and took snapshots of churning New York Harbor Monday, trying to salvage normal routines.
Without most stores and museums open, tourists were left to snap photos of the World Trade Center site, Wall Street and Times Square in largely deserted streets.
Breed reported from Raleigh, North Carolina; Contributing to this report were Jennifer Peltz and Tom Hays in New York City, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington; Katie Zezima in Atlantic City, New Jersey; David Porter in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey; Wayne Parry in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey; and David Dishneau in Delaware.
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