Flooded cars, caused by Hurricane Sandy, are seen on October 29, 2012, in the Financial District of New York, United States. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
\ A police car looks out over Manhattan from near the Brooklyn Bridge as Hurricane Sandy begins to affect the area on October 29, 2012 in the in Brooklyn of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Hide Caption

Mammoth storm Sandy plunges NYC into darkness

a a a a
Share this story

NEW YORK (AP) - Much of New York was plunged into darkness Monday by a superstorm that overflowed the city's historic waterfront, flooded the financial district and subway tunnels and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people.

The city had shut its mass transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway and ordered hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to leave home to get out of the way of the superstorm Sandy as it zeroed in on the nation's largest city.

Residents spent much of the day trying to salvage normal routines, jogging and snapping pictures of the water while officials warned the worst of the storm had not hit.

By evening, a record 13-foot storm surge was threatening Manhattan's southern tip, howling winds had left a crane hanging from a high-rise and utilities deliberately darkened part of downtown Manhattan to avoid storm damage.

"It's really a complete ghost town now," said Stephen Weisbrot, from a powerless 10th-floor apartment in lower Manhattan.

Water lapped over the seawall in Battery Park City, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads. Rescue workers floated bright orange rafts down flooded downtown streets, while police officers rolled slowly down the street with loudspeakers telling people to go home.

"Now it's really turning into something," said Brian Damianakes, taking shelter in an ATM vestibule and watching a trash can blow down the street in Battery Park before the storm surge.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the surge was expected to recede by midnight, after exceeding an original expectation of 11 feet.

"We knew that this was going to be a very dangerous storm, and the storm has met our expectations," he said. "This is a once-in-a-long-time storm."

About 670,000 customers were without power late Monday in the city and suburban Westchester County.

"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at ConEdison. "This will be the largest storm-related outage in our history."

Because a customer is defined as an individual meter, the actual number of people affected is probably much higher.

It could be several days to a week before all residents who lost power during the storm get their lights back, Miksad said.

Shortly after the massive storm made landfall in southern New Jersey, Consolidated Edison cut power deliberately to about 6,500 customers in downtown Manhattan to avert further damage. Soon, huge swaths of the city went dark.

After a backup generator failed, New York University's Tisch Hospital began evacuating more than 200 patients to other facilities, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care, some of them on respirators operating on battery power.

Without power, the hospital had no elevator service, meaning patients had to be carefully carried down staircases and outside into the weather. Gusts of wind blew their blankets as nurses held IVs and other equipment.

Late Monday, an explosion at a substation at 14th Street and FDR Drive contributed to the outages. No one was injured, and ConEd did not know whether the explosion was caused by flooding or by flying debris.

The underground power lines that deliver electricity to much of New York City are much less vulnerable to outages than overhead lines because they aren't exposed to wind and falling trees or branches. But when damaged, they are harder to repair because the equipment is more difficult to access.

If substations are flooded while in operation, the equipment will fail and need to be replaced. If they are shut down in advance, workers can more quickly power up the machinery and restore service after floodwaters have receded.

Earlier Monday, another 1 million customers lost power in New York City, the northern suburbs and coastal Long Island, where floodwaters swamped cars, downed trees and put neighborhoods under water.

The storm had only killed one New York City resident by Monday night, a man who died when a tree fell on his home in the Flushing section of Queens.

The rains and howling winds, some believed to reach more than 95 mph, left a crane hanging off a luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan, causing the evacuation of hundreds from a posh hotel and other buildings. Inspectors were climbing 74 flights of stairs to examine the crane hanging from the $1.5 billion building.

The facade of a four-story Manhattan building in the Chelsea neighborhood crumbled and collapsed suddenly, leaving the lights, couches, cabinets and desks inside visible from the street. No one was hurt, although some of the falling debris hit a car.

On coastal Long Island, floodwaters swamped cars, downed trees and put neighborhoods under water as beachfronts and fishing villages bore the brunt of the storm. A police car was lost rescuing 14 people from the popular resort Fire Island.

The city shut all three of its airports, its subways, schools, stock exchanges, Broadway theaters and closed several bridges and tunnels throughout the day as the weather worsened.

On Tuesday, the New York Stock

Exchange was to be closed again - the first time it's been closed for two consecutive days due to weather since 1888, when a blizzard struck the city.

Earlier, some New Yorkers defiantly soldiered on, trying to salvage normal routines and refusing to evacuate, as the mayor ordered 375,000 in low-lying areas to do.

Tanja Stewart and her 7-year-old son, Finn, came from their home in Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood to admire the white caps on the Hudson, Finn wearing a pair of binoculars around his neck. "I really wanted to see some big waves," he said.

Keith Reilly posed in an Irish soccer jersey for a picture above the rising waters of New York Harbor with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

"This is not so bad right now," said the 25-year-old Reilly.

On Long Island, floodwaters had begun to deluge some low-lying towns. Cars floated along the streets of Long Beach and flooding consumed several blocks south of the bay, residents said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, holding a news conference on Long Island where the lights flickered and his mike went in and out, said most of the National Guards deployed to the New York City area would go to Long Island.

Anoush Vargas drove with her husband, Michael to the famed Jones Beach Monday morning, only to find it covered by water.

"We have no more beach. It's gone," she said, shaking her head as she watched the waves go under the boardwalk.

---

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews, Colleen Long and Deepti Hajela in New York, Larry Neumeister, Frank Eltman and Meghan Barr on Long Island, and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Md., contributed to this report.

Previous
1 2
Next

Copyright Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Weather News
Delightful Easter Weekend
Delightful Easter Weekend

The Easter holiday weekend will be sunny, dry and warm with highs in the mid 70s Sunday.

Chance for tornadoes increases daily
Chance for tornadoes increases daily

  In the last nine years, we typically see about a fourth of all the tornadoes we’ll see the entire year by this point.

Spring's allergies to be among most brutal ever
Spring's allergies to be among most brutal ever

This allergy season could be among the most brutal to ever hit the Tri-State.

'Blood moon' a treat for skywatchers
'Blood moon' a treat for skywatchers

A special treat occurred for most of North America Monday night into Tuesday when the moon turned to blood – well, sort of.

Locals remember deadly tornado 15 years later
Locals remember deadly tornado 15 years later

Fifty-seven minutes of terror. That’s what residents of Blue Ash and Montgomery experienced 15 years ago Wednesday when a powerful…

Celestial event to bathe Tri-State in 'blood'
Celestial event to bathe Tri-State in 'blood'

A special treat is in store for the Tri-State next week when the moon turns to blood – well, sort of.

Tri-State among worst landslide areas in the US
Tri-State among worst landslide areas in the US

Washington isn’t alone in dealing with dangerous landslides. Local experts say the Tri-State has one of the highest landslide rates in…

40 years after outbreak, 'Xenia lives'
40 years after outbreak, 'Xenia lives'

Thursday marked the 40th anniversary of the 1974 Tornado Super Outbreak and the conditions are right for similar severe weather.

WATCH: Tom McKee recalls 1974 tornado outbreak
WATCH: Tom McKee recalls 1974 tornado outbreak

WCPO reporter Tom McKee recalls covering the Tornado Super Outbreak in 1974.

April arrives with bang; severe weather expected
April arrives with bang; severe weather expected

April showers may bring May flowers, but this week’s weather is going to bring more than just rain.