Sandy leaves 35 dead, 7.6 million without power in U.S.

CBC News – Oct 30, 2012

More than 7.6 million homes and businesses are without power throughout the eastern U.S. as post-tropical storm Sandy leaves a path of destruction, at least 35 dead, and a record-breaking storm surge that has flooded parts of the Eastern Seaboard, including New York City.

New York City, which saw a four-metre storm surge, has counted at least 10 deaths, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he expects that toll will rise.

“In addition to the lives we lost, the damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive and it will not be repaired overnight,” Bloomberg told reporters.

“This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced,” he said

He said the city faces “enormous” challenges to get its public transit and power transmission systems back in operation.

U.S. President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in parts of New Jersey and New York.

The declaration makes federal funding available to people in the area, which bore the brunt of the sea surge from the superstorm.

The 10 subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn were flooded during the storm, as saltwater surge inundated signals, switches and third rails and covered tracks with sludge, said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesperson Marjorie Anders.

“This is really an island cut off right now,” CBC’s David Common said, standing along the banks of the Hudson River near Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.

The authority was already pumping water Tuesday. Workers ultimately will have to walk all of the track to inspect it, said Anders, and it wasn’t clear how long that would take.

The list of U.S. deaths included 17 in New York state, plus three in New Jersey, and four in Pennsylvania. Deaths were also reported in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia. Three of the dead were children, including an eight-year-old. Many of the deaths were attributed to falling trees. A woman in Toronto was killed by a falling sign that came apart in high winds.

After days of dire forecasts, warnings and mass evacuations in coastal areas, Sandy came ashore near Atlantic City, N.J., around 8 p.m. ET. Environment Canada said the storm’s effects were felt as far as 1,000 kilometres away.

As of 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, the storm was approximately 235 kilometres west of Philadelphia, the U.S. National Weather Service said.

“Standing water combined with downed power lines will pose a threat for the coast, heavy rain across the northeast will bring the risk of flooding and west of the Appalachians heavy snow will continue to fall in places like West Virginia,” CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said.

Although the storm is weakening as it moves westward, it still has maximum sustained winds of 72 km/h.

The remnants of Sandy are expected to move to the west-northwest and then turn north into New York state Tuesday night. The storm’s centre is expected to move into Canada on Wednesday.

Environment Canada said Sandy was expected to weaken “very rapidly” as it moves toward the eastern Great Lakes.

U.S. forecasters warned there was still potential for six-metre waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 90 centimetres of snow in West Virginia.