Deadly Sandy Roars into Tri-State, Millions Lose Power Amid Flooding

Most of Manhattan below 39th Street was without power

Hurricane Sandy roared onto land just as night fell Monday, knocking out power to about a third of Manhattan as it lashed the entire region with blinding rain, storm surge flooding and furious winds that hurled trees and tossed debris, killing at least three people.

At least 50 homes were destroyed in the Breezy Point section of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, where Firefighters were battling a six-alarm fire early Tuesday morning.

Falling trees and live wires killed at least 11 people Monday night, including two boys, 11 and 13, who were killed in North Salem, Westchester, when a tree crashed through one of their homes and struck them. 

A few hours after Sandy arrived, "pretty much everyone" below 39th Street in Manhattan was without power, Con Ed said. That included NYU Langone Medical Center, which had to evacuate late Monday after its backup power failed, Mayor Bloomberg said.

The high 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.

The MTA said floodwaters had surged into the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and into some subway stations and tracks. The entire mass transit system was shut down Sunday ahead of the storm.

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 an hour, officials said, asking those without urgent emergencies not to call. All New Yorkers were warned to stay inside and away from windows until further notice.

Flooding in low-lying areas complicated police rescues, with water overtaking precincts in parts of the city.

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 predicted to gradually wind down over the next 24 to 36 hours as it moves over the Northeast. The destructive winds and coastal storm surge will continue through the night and into Tuesday morning.

By midday Monday, most of Atlantic City, N.J., had flooded, with part of the boardwalk washing away, and the storm surge also went over the sea wall in Cape May with high tide early in the morning, punching through dunes in other communities. The state's barrier islands were under an evacuation order, along with Atlantic City.

To people stuck on New Jersey's barrier islands, Gov. Chris Christie said they would have to wait until morning to be rescued.

"I hope, I pray, that there won't be any loss of life because of it," he said.

The storm arrived in our region during a full moon when tides are near their highest, increasing coastal flooding potential, particularly across the south shores of Long Island and coastal New Jersey. The storm surge is expected to be as high as 11 feet in some areas, including parts of Manhattan.

The FDR was shut down in both directions from 61st to 116th streets due to flooding Monday, and the Holland Tunnel, Midtown Tunnel and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel were closed. The Verrazano, George Washington, Throgs Neck, Henry Hudson, Gil Hodges, Cross Bay and Bronx-Whitestone bridges closed at 7 p.m. officials said. On the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, along with the Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges, also closed. The RFK Triborough Bridge closed at 7:30 p.m. when wind gusts reached 100 mph. 

LaGuardia, Newark and Kennedy airports were closed, while all other local airports halted flights. 

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for New York and New Jersey on Sunday, allowing both states to request federal funding and other assistance for action taken in advance of the storm, which has left more than 60 people dead in its path through the Caribbean.

  • Hundreds of thousands of Con Ed customers were without power Monday night, including 17,000 in the Bronx, 19,000 in Brooklyn, 250,000 in Manhattan, 35,000 in Queens and 38,000 in Staten Island. Con Ed shut off power pre-emptively to residents in Brighton Beach and in lower Manhattan. 
  • Con Ed preemptively shut off power to parts of lower Manhattan to lessen storm damage to some underground networks. But the majority of outages in Manhattan were caused by an explosion at a substation at East 14th Street. Con Ed officials were uncertain whether the explosion had been caused by flooding, or perhaps flying debris.
  • Con Ed's steam station on East 14th Street was under water Monday night.
  • A man in Flushing, Queens, and a woman in South Richmond Hill, Queens, died after coming into contact with wires in a flooded area, officials said. 
  • 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 mayor said heat, hot water and elevators were shut off in 26 public housing developments located in the primary zone, and said buses were brought to take those 45,000 people to shelters.
  • The World Trade Center site, located in the vulnerable zone, was inspected Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The site is ready with pumps and thousands of sandbags, he said.
  • 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.
  • Con Ed said said it would shut off some steam lines in parts of Manhattan, fearing cold water flooding could burst hot lines.
  • PATH Train service remains suspended indefinitely, the Port Authority said.


  • Long Island Power Authority reported more than 250,000 customers without power.
  • A do-not-drink water order has been issued for residents in Long Beach and Mill Neck Estates in Nassau County. 
  • Suffolk County officials reported considerable storm surge flooding on the south shore at midday, and said it was likely to worsen by the evening's high tide.
  • Residents were ordered to leave Fire Island by 2 p.m. Sunday and the island was scheduled to be de-energized, the Islip town supervisor said. The fire department said 18 inches of water had already flooded the town by 9:30 a.m.
  • 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.
  • 1.8 million customers were without power.
  • At least two deaths were linked to the storm. Authorities in Morris County said the two people died after a tree fell on their car Monday evening in Mendham Township.
  • Mandatory evacuations were in place for the state's barrier islands from Long Beach Island south to Cape May, and at Atlantic City casinos.
  • By mid-afternoon, all three ways into and out of Ocean City were closed, and Atlantic City was cut off, meaning that those who had not left already were likely stuck for the duration of the storm.
  • Flooding forced officials to close the Garden State Parkway in both directions south of the Atlantic City Expressway at Exit 38.
  • To find shelters by county, go here. Officials say shelters are set up in 18 counties to accommodate roughly 12,000 people and, if needed, the state will mobilize five shelters to house another 5,000 people. For a list of county OEM coordinators, go here.
  • Christie said of the state's 590 school districts statewide, about 350 districts were closed on Monday, and about 250 of those would also be closed on Tuesday. The decisions were being made at the county level, so parents are urged to check locally.
  • Tolls were suspended on the northbound Garden State Parkway — from Cape May to the Driscoll Bridge — and on the full length of the westbound Atlantic City Expressway to assist with evacuations. The suspension remains in effect indefinitely, officials said.
  • All New Jersey Transit lines will remain suspended through Tuesday. PATH Train service is suspended indefinitely, the Port Authority said.


  • Water from Long Island Sound spilled into roadways and towns along the Connecticut shoreline Monday.
  • CL&P said more than 200,000 were without power.
  • 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.
  • 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 Monday that an 11-foot storm surge is likely to cause serious damage overnight to sewer treatment plants and power substations. He said he is most concerned about the potential for loss of life along the water.
  • Malloy said 850 National Guardsmen are deployed around the state, and will remain in Connecticut during the storm and its immediate aftermath. With winds above 50 mph forecast to affect much of the state, the governor also ordered a ban on trucks and nonemergency vehicles from most highways beginning at 1 p.m. Monday.
  • Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia said city officials are concerned the storm surge could push water over a hurricane barrier built by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the downtown area after hurricanes in 1938, 1955 and 1956. If the surge reaches 12 feet, it could push water over the barrier and flood downtown Stamford with water.
  • The state has launched a site to keep residents up to date on Sandy. It can be found here.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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