A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury highrise in New York dangles precariously after collapsing in high winds. Some buildings near the highrise were evacuated as a precaution. Engineers and inspectors were planning to hike up 74 flights of stairs to examine the crane. (AP)
New York, Oct. 30 (AP): The misery of superstorm Sandy’s devastation grew today as millions along the US East Coast faced life without power or mass transit for days.
Huge swathes of New York City remained eerily quiet. The US death toll climbed to 33, many of the victims killed by falling trees, and rescue work continued.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey yesterday evening with hurricane force cut power to more than 8.2 million across the east. New York was among the hardest hit. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city’s subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest US transit system would be rolling again.
But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived. Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.
A hoarse-voiced New Jersey governor Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state’s barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water. “It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” he said. “It is a devastating sight right now.”
The death toll from Sandy in the US included several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard. Airlines cancelled more than 12,000 flights. “This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced,” New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The storm sent a nearly 4.27-metre surge of seawater, a record, coursing over its seawalls and highways and into low-lying streets. The water inundated 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.
A fire raged in a city neighbourhood this morning near the Atlantic Ocean, with 80 to 100 homes destroyed but no deaths reported. “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.
In New Jersey, where the superstorm came ashore, a huge swell of water swept over the small town of Moonachie, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some of them living in a trailer park. Police and fire officials used boats to try to reach the stranded. “I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground. I watched a tree crush a guy’s house like a wet sponge,” mobile home park resident Juan Allen said.
Curiosity turned to concern overnight as New York City residents watched whole neighbourhoods disappear into darkness as power was cut. The World Trade Center site was a glowing ghost near the tip of Lower Manhattan. Residents reported seeing no lights but the strobes of emergency vehicles and the glimpses of flashlights in nearby apartments. Lobbies were flooded, cars floated and people started to worry about food.
Tunnels and bridges to Manhattan were shut down, and some flooded. “We have no idea how long it’s going to take” to restore the transit system, MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said today.
New York University’s Tisch Hospital was forced to evacuate 200 patients after its back-up generator failed. NYU Medical dean Robert Grossman said patients — among them 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit who were on battery-powered respirators — had to be carried down staircases and to dozens of ambulances waiting to take them to other hospitals.
Huge fire destroys homes
New York, Oct. 30 (Reuters): A huge fire that erupted as Sandy ripped through New York City with near-hurricane force winds last night destroyed dozens of homes in the Breezy Point neighbourhood of Queens, officials said.
Breezy Point had been extensively flooded by Sandy’s record storm surge, and firefighters were hampered in their efforts to bring the blaze under control, New York fire department spokesman said. No casualties were immediately reported.
New York (AP): The New York Stock Exchange will re-open for regular trading on Wednesday after being shut down for two days because of Hurricane Sandy. It said in a statement on Tuesday that its building and trading floor are fully operational.
Washington (AP): Hurricane Sandy disrupted the presidential race as President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney both cancelled campaign events, punching holes in their strategies.