Nation e-Edition

Major damage in US after Superstorm Sandy

Large chunks of the boardwalk are piled near an apartment building on the ocean in Atlantic City, N.J.

Tue, October 30, 2012 - 10:14 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City awakened this morning to a flooded subway system, shuttered financial markets and hundreds of thousands of people without power a day after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed into the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels.

Scenes of the damage were everywhere. 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, this morning as she surveyed the damage in her Brooklyn neighbourhood, 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 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 ten 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.

The 108-year-old subway system "has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement.

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.

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

In Queens, nearly 200 firefighters tried to contain an enormous blaze that consumed more than 80 homes in the Breezy Point neighbourhood. They had to use a boat to make rescues and climbed an awning to reach about 25 trapped people, firefighters told WABC-TV.

Officials weren't immediately able to pin down the cause of the blaze.

 

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