Sandy brings darkness, damp & death
Oct 30, 2012 / 4:49 am
As Superstorm Sandy marched slowly inland, millions along the U.S. East Coast awoke Tuesday without power or mass transit, with huge swaths of New York City unusually dark and abandoned.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 130 km/h sustained winds killed at least 17 people in seven states, cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio and put the presidential campaign on hold one week before Election Day.
New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day and seawater cascading into the still-gaping construction pit at the World Trade Center. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of New York's extensive subway system, according to Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, senior vice-president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison, which had more than 670,000 customers without power in and around New York City.
Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was cancelled again Tuesday, the first time the exchange suspended operations for two consecutive days due to weather since an 1888 blizzard struck the city.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island, making federal funding available to residents of the area.
New York City's three major airports remained closed. Overall, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 13,500 flights had been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm.
An unprecedented 3.9-meter surge of seawater, a metre above the previous record, gushed into lower Manhattan, inundating tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street and sent hospital patients and tourists scrambling for safety. Skyscrapers swayed and creaked in winds that partially toppled a crane 74 stories above Midtown.
In New Jersey, where the superstorm came ashore, hundreds of people were being evacuated after a levee broke early Tuesday. Bergen County executive chief of staff Jeanne Baratta told The Record ( a newspaper) that as many as 1,000 people could need help. There are no reports of injuries or deaths.
The massive storm reached well into the Midwest. Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepared for winds of up to 96 km/h and waves exceeding 7.2 metres well into Wednesday.
As Hurricane Sandy closed in on the Northeast, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a monstrous hybrid of rain, high wind, and even snow in West Virginia and other mountainous areas inland.
Remnants of the now-former Category 1 hurricane were forecast to head across Pennsylvania before taking another sharp turn into western New York state by Wednesday morning. As of 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) Tuesday, the storm was centred about 145 kilometres west of Philadelphia.
Officials blamed at least 16 deaths in the U.S. on the converging storms, five in New York, three each in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two in Connecticut, and one each in Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia. Three of the victims were children, one just 8 years old. At least one death was blamed on the storm in Canada.
Sandy, which killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Atlantic Coast, began to hook left at midday Monday toward the New Jersey coast. Even before it made landfall, crashing waves had claimed an old, 15-metre piece of Atlantic City's world-famous Boardwalk.
An explosion at a ConEdison substation knocked out power to about 310,000 customers in Manhattan.
"We see a pop. The whole sky lights up," said Dani Hart, 30, who was watching the storm from the roof of her building in the Navy Yards in Brooklyn.
"It sounded like the Fourth of July," Stephen Weisbrot said from his 10th-floor apartment in lower Manhattan.
A huge fire destroyed at least 50 homes in a flooded neighbourhood by the Atlantic Ocean in the New York City borough of Queens. Firefighters told WABC-TV that they had to use a boat to make rescues. Two people suffered minor injuries, a fire department spokesman said.
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