orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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October 30, 2012

Sandy leaves death, damp and darkness in wake

NEW YORK — Millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas awoke Tuesday without power, and an eerily quiet New York City was all but closed off by car, train and air as superstorm Sandy steamed inland, still delivering punishing wind and rain.

The full extent of the damage in New Jersey, where the storm roared ashore Monday night with hurricane force, was unclear. Police and fire officials, some with their own departments flooded, fanned out to rescue hundreds.

"We are in the midst of urban search and rescue. Our teams are moving as fast as they can," Gov. Chris Christie said. "The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we've ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point."

The death toll from Sandy in the U.S. climbed to 18, including six in New York, four in Pennsylvania and three in New Jersey, with most of the victims killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard.

At least 7.4 million people across the East were without electricity. Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights.

Lower Manhattan, the financial center of the U.S., was among the hardest-hit areas after the storm sent a nearly 14-foot surge of seawater, a record, coursing over its seawalls and highways and into low-lying streets.

Water cascaded into the gaping, unfinished construction pit at the World Trade Center, and the New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day, the first time that has happened because of weather in more than a century.

A huge fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens on Tuesday, forcing firefighters to undertake daring rescues. Three people were injured.

A downtown hospital, New York University's Tisch, evacuated 200 patients after its backup generator failed. About 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit were carried down staircases and on battery-powered respirators.

And a construction crane that collapsed in the high winds on Monday still dangled precariously 74 floors above the streets of midtown Manhattan.

With water standing in two major commuter tunnels and seven subway tunnels under the East River, there was no indication of when the nation's largest transit system would be rolling again. It shut down Sunday night ahead of the storm.

Joseph Lhota, chairman of the regional Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the damage was the worst in the 108-year history of the New York subway.

Millions of more fortunate New Yorkers surveyed damage as dawn broke, their city brought to an extraordinary standstill.

"Oh, Jesus. Oh, no," Faye Schwartz said she looked over damage in neighborhood in Brooklyn, where cars were scattered like leaves.

Besides the subway and the stock exchange, most major tunnels and bridges in New York were closed, as were schools, Broadway theaters and the metropolitan area's three main airports, LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark.

"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, a huge swell of water swept over the small town of Moonachie, near the Hackensack River, 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.

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