Deadly Sandy Leaves Millions Without Power, Floods Mass Transit

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Aviators of the 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey National Guard, look for displaced residents along the New Jersey coastline Oct. 30, in the aftermath of Sandy. (Published Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014)

    Millions of people without power or mass transit after Sandy ripped through the region were warned Tuesday it would be days before basic services could be restored in the aftermath of the epic storm that flooded coastlines, sparked devastating fires, displaced thousands and took at least 38 lives.

    Those in the dark included "pretty much everyone" in Manhattan below 39th Street at one point, Con Ed said. The company cut power to about 160,000 customers in southern Brooklyn and central portions of Staten Island Tuesday night as new transmission problems cropped up. Con Ed estimated that its customers served by underground lines in Brooklyn and Manhattan would have power within four days, and those with overhead lines would likely be without it for at least a week.

    "Clearly the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous," Mayor Bloomberg said.

    The White House announced President Barack Obama would tour the devastation in New Jersey on Wednesday.

    Sandy roared onto land near Atlantic City, N.J., just as night fell Monday, whipping huge, frothy waves over the streets and leaving splintered boardwalk planks in its wake. More than 30 deaths are being attributed to the storm across the tri-state area, including an off-duty NYPD officer found in his Staten Island home, a woman who died after coming into contact with wires in a flooded area and several killed by falling trees.

    Two victims were found in piles of rubble near the Staten Island shoreline, where emergency responders said they had discovered homes completely flattened by a wall of water during the storm surge.

    MTA Chairman Joe Lhota told NBC 4 New York that he couldn't even begin to say when subways and commuter rails might be up and running. All the damage, he said, was to tracks, stations and tunnels; subway cars and buses were not harmed.

    "It's like nothing we've ever experienced before," he said. "We are in the assessment stage."

    He said floodwaters also surged into the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The entire mass transit system was shut down Sunday ahead of the storm, and most bridges and tunnels were closed as Sandy approached. Bridges began opening Tuesday morning.

    Bloomberg estimated it would be four or five days before subway service is restored. Limited bus service resumed Tuesday, with fares waived. Yellow cabs will be able to pick up multiple passengers and livery cabs will be up to pick up curbside fares, Bloomberg said.  Riders in both instances should negotiate fares with the driver ahead of time, the mayor said.

    New York City schools were to be closed for a third day Wednesday, the mayor said. The New York Stock Exchange said it would resume trading on Wednesday after two days of halted business.

    Kennedy Airport and Newark Airport will re-open at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited air service. The Port Authority says some carriers will be landing planes with new passengers at Kennedy Airport Tuesday night to be prepared for flights the next day. LaGuardia Airport remains closed. 

    At least 80 homes were destroyed in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, where firefighters battled an overnight fire that escalated to a six-alarm blaze. It wasn't clear if anyone was injured. Bloomberg said 23 serious fires erupted throughout the city overnight.  Police arrested nine people for looting in the Rockaways on Tuesday, officials said.

    NYU's Langone Medical Center had to move 200 patients late Monday after its backup generator failed. NYU Medical Dean Robert Grossman said patients — among them 20 babies from neonatal intensive care that were on battery-powered respirators — had to be carried down staircases and to dozens of waiting ambulances.

    The howling winds ripped through the canyons of Manhattan's skyscrapers, likely contributing to the collapse of a crane at 57th Street and Sixth Avenue, where police stopped traffic on nearby streets and evacuated buildings as it dangled 90 stories above the ground. Downtown, rescuers responded to a building collapse on Eighth Avenue as Battery Park began to flood.

    Hundreds of thousands had been ordered to evacuate low-lying areas, but many still remained when the waters began to swell Monday. By evening, officials said it was too late to get out of flood-prone areas, and as Sandy swirled into the city, the sea washed into coastal areas including swaths of Manhattan, the Rockaways in Queens and Coney Island in Brooklyn.

    Rescuers responded in boats as the water line rose, reaching attic level in some Staten Island homes. The 911 system became overloaded with 20,000 calls an hour, officials said, asking those without urgent emergencies not to call.

    Flooding in low-lying areas complicated police rescues, with water overtaking precincts in parts of the city. Hundreds were rescued from those areas citywide, officials said.

    The rising water also made rescues dangerous in New Jersey, where the barrier islands and Atlantic City had been under an evacuation order since Sunday. As the storm surge lapped over the sea wall in Cape May, punching through dunes in other communities, Gov. Chris Christie said that anyone stuck on the barrier islands would have to wait until morning for rescue.

    On Tuesday, he said the devastation on the Jersey shore was "unthinkable." Parts of amusement piers at Seaside Park washed into the Atlantic Ocean, railroad bridges were damaged, train tracks on the North Jersey Coast line were swept away, rail cars were carried by floodwaters onto the New Jersey Turnpike and homes were swept off their foundations in Ocean County.

    Officials were estimating Tuesday that at least 20,000 people remained stranded in Hoboken, where Mayor Dawn Zimmer said residents were surrounded by water. The New Jersey National Guard began assisting in rescues late Tuesday night.

    President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in New York City, New Jersey and Long Island, making federal funding available to the areas most decimated by the sea surge.

    Sandy had intensified as it churned toward the Jersey shore near Atlantic City, hurtling toward the region with sustained winds of 90 mph. The storm then changed over to a post-tropical cyclone, which was being absorbed into what forecasters describe as a large Nor'easter. It is winding down over the next 24 hours, but will continue to produce heavy rain and cause more flooding as it moves over the Northeast.

    NEW YORK CITY
    • Con Ed said it had about 228,000 customers out in Manhattan, 110,000 in Queens, 113,000 in Staten Island, 87,000 in Brooklyn and 42,000 in the Bronx. They included about 160,000 new outages Wednesday night -- mainly in southern Brooklyn and central portions of Staten Island -- that lost power as a result of new transmission problems. 
    • Police are reporting at least 22 storm-related deaths in New York City, including a teenage girl who was found near the shore on Staten Island. A 29-year old man in Flushing, Queens was killed in bed when a tree crashed into his home and a woman in South Richmond Hill, Queens died after coming into contact with wires in a flooded area. A man in his 50s was also found dead in a flooded lower Manhattan basement, authorities said.
    • Con Ed's steam station on East 14th Street was under water Monday night.
    • Bellevue Hospital was running on backup power and Coney Island Hospital had to evacuate.
    • A record-high 32.5-foot wave was recorded in New York harbor.
    • The East River bridges reopened just before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, along with the George Washington, Goethals, and Bayonne bridges and the Outerbridge Crossing.
    • The Verrazano, RFK, Throgs Neck, Whitestone and Marine Parkway bridges have also opened.
    • The Lincoln Tunnel is open but the Holland Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel are closed until further notice.
    • The northbound lanes of the FDR Drive from the Battery to Dyckman Street and the southbound lanes from East 125th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge are now open to traffic.
    • Kennedy Airport re-opens Wednesday at 7 a.m. LaGuardia Airport remains closed. 
    • For the first time in its 39 years, New York City's Halloween parade was canceled.
    • Hundreds of thousands of people live in New York City's primary evacuation zone, shown in orange on this map.
    • Monday morning about 3,100 people were staying in 76 city shelters. Locations can be found on the city's website or by calling 311. 
    • The city's 1.1 million-pupil school system, the largest in the nation, was closed Monday and Tuesday.
    • City parks are closed.
    • The city is under a high wind warning from 6 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
    • PATH Train service remains suspended indefinitely, the Port Authority said.

    LONG ISLAND

    • Long Island Power Authority reported more than 940,000 customers without power.
    • At least two storm-related deaths have been reported. In Suffolk County, a 39-year-old man was struck by falling tree and in Nassau County, a 84-year-old man died after being struck by a falling tree.
    • Suffolk County officials reported considerable storm surge flooding on the south shore.
    • Residents in Long Beach and Mill Neck in Nassau County were told not to drink tap water due to potential contamination.
    • Nassau County police say a man in Garden City Park accidentally blew off his hand when he lighted fireworks during a power outage, thinking it was a candle.
    • Fourteen people were rescued from deserted Fire Island, and a police vehicle was lost in the rescue effort, said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
    • Cars were floating along the streets of Long Beach in Nassau County, which was under a mandatory evacuation order. Flooding had consumed several blocks south of the bay, said Long Beach resident Jay Bochner.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo said most of the National Guard troops deployed to the area would be stationed on Long Island.
    NEW JERSEY
    • More than 2 million customers were without power and 5,500 residents were in shelters.
    • The storm killed at least six people, including a man whose body was pulled from the Hackensack River Tuesday and a 61-year-old Princeton man killed Monday night by a tree that fell on him as he cleared debris from his driveway.
    • Authorities in Morris County said two people died after a tree fell on their car Monday evening in Mendham Township.
    • Authorities in Moonachie began a rescue effort after a huge swell of water flooded the town. Police Sgt. Tom Schmidt said the rush of water put about 5 feet of water in the streets within 45 minutes.
    • About two dozen rail cars washed onto the New Jersey Turnpike as a result of the powerful storm surge from Sandy, authorities say. The highway was closed between Carteret and Newark.
    • Officials were evacuating the Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, sending 51 patients, including new mothers and babies, to Hackensack University Medical Center.
    • The Garden State Parkway was reopened to traffic Tuesday, but more than 200 other state roads remained closed, many of them inaccessible due to fallen trees and downed power wires.
    • Newark Airport was to re-open at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
    • Many towns across the state were rescheduling Halloween for the weekend.
    • Major flooding had hit Toms River, and several people were trapped on upper floors of their homes near Barnegat Bay.
    • Jersey City closed the city to vehicles because traffic lights were out, and Hoboken was dealing with major flooding as well.
    • The barrier island of Ocean City was cut off from the mainland by the storm; an estimated 2,000 people had no way on or off the island during the storm.
    • Sandy Hook reached a record high watermark of more than 13 feet.
    • A shelter was being set up at Teterboro Airport Tuesday. To find shelters by county, go here. Officials say shelters are set up in 18 counties to accommodate roughly 12,000 people.
    • Tolls resumed on the northbound Garden State Parkway — from Cape May to the Driscoll Bridge — and on the full length of the westbound Atlantic City Expressway.
    • All New Jersey Transit lines remain suspended through Tuesday. PATH Train service is suspended indefinitely, the Port Authority said.
    • NY Waterway ferry service resumes at limited stops. Check nywaterway.com for the latest.

    CONNECTICUT

    • More than 475,000 were without power.
    • At least three deaths are being blamed on the storm in Connecticut.
    • Water from Long Island Sound spilled into roadways and towns along the Connecticut shoreline.
    • More than 500 people evacuated to shelters from low-lying areas.
    • A firefighter in Easton died of cardiac arrest while responding to an emergency call after a tree landed on his vehicle.
    • The body of a missing 34-year-old man was recovered in Milford. Authorities say he was last seen swimming in the heavy surf after jumping from a pier at about 8 p.m. Monday.
    • A 90-year old Mansfield woman was killed and two family members were seriously injured when a tree fell on them Monday.
    • Hundreds of residents in Greenwich did not heed instructions to evacuate.
    • A home on Binney Lane in Greenwich caught fire and firefighters could not get there because of flooding and live wires. Four houses were burned or damaged.
    • Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said 850 National Guardsmen are deployed around the state, and will remain in Connecticut during the storm and its immediate aftermath.
    • The state's storm site can be found here.

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