Killer ‘Franken-storm’ Sandy creates US havoc
A rescue worker carries a boy on his back as emergency personnel rescue residents from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.Super-storm Sandy slammed the New Jersey coastline with 80 mph winds and hurled a record-breaking 4-meter surge of seawater at New York City, flooding tunnels, highways, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street. The storm claimed at least 16 lives.
Sandy knocked out power on Oct. 29 for at least 6.2 million people across the eastern United States, and New York’s main utility company said large sections of lower Manhattan have been plunged into darkness.
Local officials in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Carolina reported at least 15 deaths from the massive storm, and Toronto police said a Canadian woman was killed by flying debris.
Sandy had been stripped of its hurricane status, but it still packed hurricane-force winds. Forecasters were careful to stress that it remained every bit as dangerous as a hurricane to the 50 million people in its path. U.S. President Barack Obama declared a “major disaster” in New York state following mega-storm Sandy, and freed up federal aid for victims.
A blaze swept through more than 50 homes in the New York City borough of Queens early yesterday in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, firefighters said. The New York Fire Department said on its Twitter page that more than 50 homes had been “completely destroyed” by the six-alarm blaze.
The fire came after the so-called “Franken-storm” flooded lower Manhattan, inundating several subway lines and knocking out power to a half a million homes and businesses across the city. Seven New York subway tunnels and six bus garages were flooded in the worst disaster for city transport in a century, the network’s chief said yesterday. “The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night,” said Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In an attempt to ease the damage of saltwater to the subway system and the electrical network beneath the city’s financial district, New York City’s main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. Yet a far wider swath of the city was hit with blackouts caused by flooding and transformer explosions.
Exelon Corp declared an “alert” at its New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, warning that a further rise in water levels could force the country’s oldest working plant to use emergency water supplies to cool spent uranium fuel rods.
More than 200 patients, including 20 infants from neonatal intensive care, were moved from New York University’s Tisch Hospital after its power went out and a backup generator failed. The patients, some on respirators operating on battery power, were taken to other hospitals.
Heavy rain and further flooding will remain major threats over the next couple of days as the storm makes its way into Pennsylvania and up New York state. Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights in the region. The New York Stock Exchange remained closed yesterday, the first time it has closed for two consecutive days due to weather since 1888. The U.N. canceled all meetings at New York headquarters.