October 30, 2012

NYC Mayor: At least 10 dead in city due to storm

Water overflowed the city's historic waterfront, financial district and subway tunnels and cut power to nearly a million people, and a massive fire destroyed at least 80 homes in Queens.

Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz / The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The massive storm that pummeled the East killed 10 people in New York City and left the nation's largest city eerily quiet Tuesday, with no running trains, a darkened business district and neighborhoods under water.

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A fire burns at least two dozen homes in a flooded neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens on Tuesday. A fire department spokesman says more than 190 firefighters are at the blaze in the Breezy Point section. Fire officials say the blaze was reported around 11 p.m. Monday in an area flooded by the superstorm that began sweeping through earlier.

AP

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This image from video provided by Dani Hart shows a transformer exploding in lower Manhattan as seen from a building rooftop from the Navy Yard in Brooklyn during Sandy's arrival in New York City.

AP

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It was "a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who gave no firm timeline on when the city's basic services would be restored.

Scenes of the damage from the overnight havoc were everywhere after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. Between 80 and 100 flooded homes in Queens caught fire and were destroyed. A hospital removed patients on stretchers and 20 babies from neonatal intensive care, some on respirators operating on battery power.

Sidewalks, streets and subways usually bustling with crowds and traffic jams were largely empty. And high above midtown, the broken boom of a crane continued to dangle precariously over a neighborhood.

"Oh, Jesus. Oh, no," said Faye Schwartz, 65, Tuesday morning as she surveyed the damage in her Brooklyn neighborhood, where cars were strewn like leaves, planters were deposited in intersections and green Dumpsters were tossed on their sides.

The storm was once Hurricane Sandy but combined with two wintry systems to become a huge hybrid storm whose center smashed ashore late Monday in New Jersey. New York City was perfectly positioned to absorb the worst of its storm surge — a record 13 feet.

The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment, the mayor said. Another person died by stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire, Bloomberg said. He didn't give immediate details on all the dead, where they were located, and when they died.

At a darkened luxury high-rise building called the William Beaver House in Lower Manhattan, resident manager John Sarich was sending up porters with flashlights up and down the 47 flights of stairs to check on residents.

He said most people stayed put despite calls to evacuate. One pregnant resident started having contractions, and Sarich said that before the power went out, he nervously researched how to deliver a baby on the Internet.

"I said, 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble,'" Sarich said. The woman managed to find a cab to take her to a hospital.

Uptown in Chelsea, the city's thriving gallery district was under waist-high water the night before.

Reggie Thomas, a maintenance supervisor at a prison located within striking distance of the overflowing Hudson River, emerged from an overnight shift there, a toothbrush in his front pocket, to find his 2011 Honda with its windows down and a foot of water inside. The windows automatically go down when the car is submerged to free drivers. It left his car with a foot of water inside, and unable to start.

"It's totaled," Thomas said, with a shrug. "You would have needed a boat last night."

The city's transit system suffered unprecedented damage, from the underground subway tunnels to commuter rails to bus garages, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Tuesday.

"We have no idea how long it's going to take," spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.

All 10 subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn were flooded during the storm, as the saltwater surge inundated signals, switches and third rails and covered tracks with sludge, she said.

The entire system wasn't flooded and the authority was already pumping water Tuesday. Workers ultimately will have to walk all the hundreds of miles of track to inspect it, she said, and it wasn't clear how long that would take. Trains had been moved to safety before the storm.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Vehicles are submerged on 14th Street near the Consolidated Edison power plant, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain.  (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

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Lower Manhattan goes dark during the hybrid storm Sandy, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, viewed from the Brooklyn borough of New York. Authorities warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower areas of the city. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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Sea water floods the Ground Zero construction site, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain.  (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

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Streets are flooded under the Manhattan Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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Firefighters look up at the facade of a four-story building on 14th Street and 8th Avenue that collapsed onto the sidewalk Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Hurricane Sandy bore down on the Eastern Seaboard's largest cities Monday, forcing the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds, soaking rain and a surging wall of water up to 11 feet tall. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

 


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