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As Hurricane Sandy churned inland as a downgraded storm on Tuesday, residents in battered mid-Atlantic states faced floods, power failures and the daunting task of cleaning up from once-in-a-generation storm surges and their devastating effects.
10:36 A.M. Flooding Blamed for New Jersey Power Failures
10:21 A.M. Christie Praises Obama for Storm Response
10:12 A.M. New York Stock Exchange to Open Wednesday
10:10 A.M. Nursing and Adult Homes Struggling
Patients Evacuated From City Medical Center After Power Failure (October 30, 2012)
Power Failures and Furious Flooding Overwhelm Lower Manhattan and Red Hook (October 30, 2012)
Storm Is Expected to Be Less Powerful, and Less Drenching, as It Moves Inland (October 30, 2012)
Hurricane Sandy a Chance at Redemption for FEMA (October 30, 2012)
Three Leaders, All Comfortable, Put Three Different Faces on Storm Response (October 30, 2012)
IHT Rendezvous: Sandy Dominates European Headlines (October 30, 2012)
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Roughly six million people, including many in a large swath of Manhattan, were without electricity. Streets were littered with debris and buildings damaged. Seven subway tunnels under the East River were flooded. While several bridges over the East River were set to reopen, other mass transit service, including commuter rails, was still suspended.
At least 26 deaths in seven states were tied to the storm, which toppled trees and sparked fires in several areas, government officials and emergency authorities said. Falling limbs became deadly bludgeons in three of the New York deaths and two in Morris County, N.J., where The Associated Press reported a man and a woman were killed when a tree fell on their car Monday evening.
There were at least 10 killed in New York City alone, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Tuesday, adding that some were killed when stepping in a puddle where a power line had fallen or when a tree fell onto a house.
“We had a storm of unprecedented proportions,” he said in a news conference.
Mr. Bloomberg said that schools would remain closed for a third day on Wednesday and that the authorities would try to restore subway service in about four days, but he did not provide an exact timetable.
By sending brackish water into so many subway tunnels, the storm became the most destructive in the 108-year history of New York’s subway system, said Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in an early morning statement. “We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery,” he said.
As the storm made its way across the Atlantic this week, the authorities ordered mandatory evacuations in many low-lying areas of states along the coast to clear residents from the anticipated surge and powerful winds. At one point, hurricane-force winds extended up to 175 miles from the center of the storm; tropical-storm-force winds spread out 485 miles from the center.
When it made landfall at 8 p.m. on Monday, its violent winds and lashing rains began to transform city landscapes into tableaus of destruction in the region. By Tuesday morning in New York City, one of the most dramatic scenes was 80 stories high, where a wind-tossed construction crane atop one of the city’s tallest buildings still dangled over West 57th Street, across the street from Carnegie Hall, after coming loose during the storm.
Forecasters tracked the storm’s path in a shift well to the west, with the prediction models suggesting it wouldl run up through central Pennsylvania and western New York State and to enter southern Ontario by Wednesday, said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Rain levels are expected to diminish as the storm continues to move inland and loses contact with the ocean — its source of moisture — though wind damage is still likely across a broad stretch of the country, Mr. Blake said. “You’ve got rain or snow extending from Georgia through Maine and Michigan,” he said. “When you have something over Pennsylvania, and Lake Michigan is seeing gale-force winds, you’ve got a very large storm.”
Forecasters said tropical-storm-force winds could stretch all the way north to Canada and all the way west to the Great Lakes. Heavy snow was expected in some states.
More than 13,000 airline flights were canceled at airports across the East Coast, including the three major airports in the New York City area. Even the Erie Canal was shut down. Subways were shut down from Boston to Washington, as were Amtrak and the commuter rail lines.
In Breezy Point on the Rockaways in Queens, nearly 200 firefighters were still battling a blaze on Tuesday morning that destroyed about 80 tightly packed homes in the beach community. A Fire Department spokesman said the area was “probably the most flooded part of the city, so there are all sorts of complications.”
The surging water also caused extensive complications at NYU Langone Medical Center when a backup power system failed on Monday night, forcing the evacuation of patients to other facilities. Backup power also failed at Coney Island Hospital in southern Brooklyn, though critical patients had been evacuated in advance of the storm.
Fatalities in Several States
In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said late Monday night that at least five deaths in the state were caused by the storm. About 7 p.m., a tree fell on a house in Queens, killing a 30-year-old man, the city police said. About the same time, two boys, ages 11 and 13, were killed in North Salem, in northern Westchester County, when a tree fell on the house they were in, according to the State Police. The storm was tied to another three deaths in Maryland, two in Connecticut and one in West Virginia, state authorities said.
Officials for Pennsylvania said two deaths — a boy in Susquehanna County and a 62-year-old man in Berks County, were being investigated but that the county coroner had not yet confirmed them as related to the storm. In North Carolina, a man was killed when his vehicle hit a tree that was crashing down in Surry Couty, said an official with the state emergency offices.
The wind-driven rain lashed sea walls and protective barriers in places like Atlantic City, where the Boardwalk was damaged as water forced its way inland. Foam was spitting, and the sand gave in to the waves along the beach at Sandy Hook, N.J., at the entrance to New York Harbor.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey called the damage to his state “incalculable” and said the Jersey Shore had been “devastated.” As he spoke on a series of morning talk shows on Tuesday, rescue teams were rushing to the aid of those stranded in Atlantic City and in areas of Bergen County where, he said, tidal waters had overwhelmed a protective natural berm.
Water was thigh-high on the streets in Sea Bright, N.J., a three-mile sand-sliver of a town where the ocean joined the Shrewsbury River.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” said David Arnold, watching the storm from his home in Long Branch, N.J. “The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad.”
As the storm struck New York City, waves topped the sea wall in the financial district in Manhattan, sending cars floating down streets. West Street, along the western edge of Lower Manhattan, looked like a river. The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel flooded “from end to end,” the transportation authority said, hours after Mr. Cuomo had ordered it closed to traffic. Officials said water also seeped into seven subway tunnels under the East River.
Extensive Power Failures
By early Monday evening, the storm had knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes, stores and office buildings. Consolidated Edison said that as of 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, 634,000 customers in New York City and Westchester were without power. Con Edison, fearing damage to its electrical equipment, shut down power pre-emptively in sections of Lower Manhattan on Monday evening, and then, at 8:30 p.m., an unplanned failure, probably caused by flooding in substations, knocked out power to most of Manhattan below Midtown, affecting about 250,000 customers. Later, an explosion at a Con Ed substation on East 14th Street knocked out power to another 250,000 customers.
Much of Manhattan could be without electricity for several days after the explosion, a spokesman for Con Ed said Tuesday morning. More than 240,000 customers – and many more people – were without power more than 12 hours after the explosion; a customer can represent a single family or an entire building, utility officials said.
The blast knocked out electricity for all of Manhattan below 39th Street on the East Side and 31st Street on the West side – with the exception of a few pockets, including Battery Park City.
In New Jersey, more than two million customers were without power as of 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, and in Connecticut the total reached nearly 500,000 customers.
President Obama declared a federal disaster area on Tuesday in New York City, Long Island and eight counties in New Jersey.
Forecasters attributed the power of the storm to a convergence of weather systems. As the hurricane swirled north in the Atlantic and then pivoted toward land, a wintry storm was heading toward it from the west, and cold air was blowing south from the Arctic. The hurricane left more than 60 people dead in the Caribbean before it began crawling toward the Northeast.
“The days ahead are going to be very difficult,” Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland said.
Alex Sosnowski, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, said potentially damaging winds would continue on Tuesday from Illinois to the Carolinas — and as far north as Maine — as the storm barreled toward the eastern Great Lakes.
Reporting on the storm was contributed by Peter Applebome, Charles V. Bagli, Joseph Berger, Nina Bernstein, Cara Buckley, Russ Buettner, David W. Chen, Annie Correal, Sam Dolnick, Christopher Drew, David W. Dunlap, Ann Farmer, Lisa W. Foderaro, Joseph Goldstein, David M. Halbfinger, Christine Hauser, Elizabeth A. Harris, Winnie Hu, Jon Hurdle, Thomas Kaplan, Corey Kilgannon, John Leland, Randy Leonard, Patrick McGeehan, Jad Mouawad, Colin Moynihan, Sarah Maslin Nir, Sharon Otterman, William K. Rashbaum, Ray Rivera, Liz Robbins, Wendy Ruderman, Nate Schweber, Michael Schwirtz, Mosi Secret, Kirk Semple, Joe Sharkey, Brian Stelter, Kate Taylor, Julie Turkewitz, Matthew L. Wald, Michael Wilson, Michael Winerip, Vivian Yee and Kate Zernike.
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