Tue October 30, 2012
Latest On Sandy: Death Toll, Damages Rise As Superstorm Heads North
Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 6:16 am
Sandy, the hurricane-turned-superstorm, has left dozens dead, millions without power and thousands in need of rescue from rising waters as it slowly moves north and west from the Mid-Atlantic to pass over the Great Lakes and into Canada.
According to The Associated Press, storm damage was projected at $20 billion, "meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history."
Sandy has also taken a huge human toll: More than 30 deaths since the weekend and millions more coping with damaged homes, crippled transportation systems and no power.
We'll be updating this post throughout the day. If you just want to see our recaps of the top developments, click here.
Here's your evening recap on where things stand:
-- Deaths: The toll continues to climb. The day began with reports of at least 16 deaths. By nightfall, the Associated Press was reporting that at least 48 people had died in the U.S. alone.
The biggest number is coming out of New York, which is reporting 18 deaths.
-- Power Outages: There were about 8.2 million customers without electricity as of 3 p.m. ET today, the Department of Energy says.
-- New York Slammed: Not only was the city drenched and shut down by rising waters — authorities also had to deal with a massive fire in Queens, "widespread flooding, power and transportation outages." The city's subway system has experienced some of the worst damage in its 108-year history and may not reopen for several days.
We've added a separate post about the devastation in Breezy Point, Queens.
-- Some Signs Of Recovery: In Washington, D.C. there were some signs that life was getting back to normal. The city's subway system is up and running and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced federal agencies will reopen on Wednesday.
-- Presidential Visit: The White House announced President Obama would visit New Jersey Wednesday afternoon to tour the damage alongside Gov. Chris Christie.
-- Transportation: "Airlines canceled around 12,500 flights because of the storm, a number that was expected to grow," the AP says. New York's LaGuardia Airport may not reopen for several days. Amtrak service in the Northeast has been canceled for at least another day. Public transportation remains out of service in New York City.
Some mass transit service has been restored in Philadelphia. And Metro was up and running in Washington, D.C.
-- Schools And Stocks: Schools remain closed across much of the region from Virginia north. The financial markets in New York, however, announced they will be open for trading on Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reports.
-- And The Forecast? The National Weather Service says Sandy has weakened significantly with maximum sustained winds at 45 mph. The storm will continue moving toward the northwest across Pennsylvania tonight and into Canada on Wednesday.
Update at 6:24 p.m. ET. Deaths Mount:
We have some more grim news this evening: The death toll continues to mount. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference that the death toll in New York is now 18.
The Associated Press is now estimating that at least 48 people are dead in the U.S.
Here's your afternoon recap on where things stand:
-- Deaths: The toll has grown, as feared. The day began with reports of at least 16 deaths. The New York Times, which has kept a fairly comprehensive tab, now puts the death toll at 38.
The biggest number is coming out of New York, which is reporting 17 deaths.
-- New York Slammed: Not only was the city drenched and shut down by rising waters — authorities also to deal with a massive fire in Queens, "widespread flooding, power and transportation outages." The city's subway system has experienced some of the worst damage in its 108-year history and may not reopen for several days.
-- Rescues: Authorities are trying to get hundreds of people out of Atlantic City, N.J., where waters are high, and some towns in northern New Jersey where a berm was overwhelmed by rising waters. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says the damage along parts of his state's coast is "beyond anything I thought I'd ever see."
-- Transportation: "Airlines canceled around 12,500 flights because of the storm, a number that was expected to grow," the AP says. New York's LaGuardia Airport may not reopen for several days. Amtrak service in the Northeast has been canceled for at least another day. Public transportation remains out of service in New York City. Philadelphia hopes to have some of its services restored later today. Subway and bus service around Washington, D.C., are expected to be restored in part later today and in full on Wednesday.
-- And Who's In The Path? According to the National Weather Service:
"SANDY HAS SLOWED IN FORWARD MOTION AND IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE ITS WESTWARD TRACK ACROSS SOUTHERN PENNSYLVANIA THIS AFTERNOON...AND SHOULD TAKE A TURN TOWARD WESTERN NEW YORK TONIGHT. THE CYCLONE WILL MOVE INTO CANADA ON WEDNESDAY. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 45 MPH."
Update at 4:19 p.m. ET. Federal Government Reopens:
Washington, D.C. is slowly getting back to normal. The city's subway system has started running again and U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced that the federal agencies will reopen on Wednesday.
Update at 3:05 p.m. ET. Obama Will Visit New Jersey Wednesday:
President Obama will travel to New Jersey on Wednesday afternoon and will tour the damage alongside Gov. Chris Christie, the White House said in a statement.
Update at 2:44 p.m. ET. There Are Still Risks, Says Obama:
President Obama made an impromptu visit to the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington. According to a pool report, Obama spoke at a podium in a conference room, where he was flanked by Red Cross employees.
He praised the Red Cross and state and local officials for their response to Sand.
The pooler, Geoff Holtzman, adds:
"POTUS urged government response officials to cut through bureaucracy and red tape to get assistance to states and localities as quickly as possible. He also slipped in a campaign slogan by telling officials to 'lean forward' to help those in need. He ignored a shouted question at the end about when he'll resume campaigning. He could be heard joking with employees afterwards to 'get back to work.'"
According to Reuters, Obama also warned that Sandy was "not over yet."
"It is still moving north," he said. "There are still communities that could be affected. So I want to emphasize there are still risks of flooding, there are still risks of downed power lines, risks of high winds."
Update at 2:15 p.m. ET. In A Dozen Cities, Record (Or Nearly) Low Pressure:
On Talk of the Nation this week, NPR's Joe Palca explained why extremely low pressure is a sign of an extremely powerful storm:
"We can think of it like a drain in the center of the hurricane that's draining stuff towards it. Well, in this case, the stuff is winds. And so the winds — as the pressure gets lower, the winds get higher as they try to race into the center of this thing, and that's why the pressure at the core of the hurricane is an important measure of how bad the winds are going to be."
On Weather Underground today, meteorologist Jeff Masters reports that Sandy broke low pressure records in six cities: Atlantic City, N.J.; Philadelphia; Harrisburg, Pa.; Scranton, Pa; Trenton, N.J.; and Baltimore. There were near records in: Newark, N.J.; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Lynchburg, Va.; and Elkins, W.Va.
Update at 1:40 p.m. ET. Homeland Security's Tip On Staying In Touch:
Here's a message you wouldn't have seen during disasters until just the past few years. On its Twitter page, the Department of Homeland Security suggests that:
"Phone lines may be congested during/after#Sandy. Let loved ones know you're OK by sending a text or updating social networks."
Update at 1:25 p.m. ET. Where Will It Flood Next? An Interactive Map:
WNYC has posted an interactive "flood gauge watch." It allows you to click on a location to check the water levels along coasts and streams.
Here's your midday recap on where things stand:
-- Deaths: The toll has grown, as feared. The day began with reports of at least 16 deaths. But that total was based on earlier reports, which included word of five deaths in New York. Later this morning, though, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there had been 10 deaths in his city alone.
According to The Associated Press, it's now thought there have been at least 33 deaths, including at least 17 in New York State.
-- Power Outages: There were about 8.1 million customers without electricity as of 9 a.m. ET today, the Department of Energy says..
-- Schools And Stocks: Schools remain closed across much of the region from Virginia north. The financial markets in New York will be closed for a second straight day. According to The Wall Street Journal, the New York Stock Exchange is aiming to have its trading floor open on Wednesday.
-- And Who's In The Path? According to the National Weather Service:
Update at 11:50 a.m. ET. Power Out For 8.1 Million Customers:
There were 8.1 million customers without electricity as of 9 a.m. ET today, the Department of Energy says. Hardest hit states:
-- New Jersey, 2.5 million customers.
-- New York, 2 million.
-- Pennsylvania, 1.3 million.
Update at 11:10 a.m. ET. 10 Deaths In New York City, More Expected:
At least 10 people were killed in Sandy-related incidents, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just told reporters. He expects that more deaths will be reported.
According to the mayor, at least 23 major fires broke out during the storm. The biggest challenges facing the city now, he said, are restoring the city's mass transit system and restoring the city's power. About 750,000 customers are without power in the city, Bloomberg added.
The city's subway system, he said, has suffered its worst disaster in the 108 years it's been operating. And the Con Edison power utility tells him the damage to its system is unprecedented. It will be days, at least, before both systems are up and running again.
Update at 10:35 a.m. ET. A Thank You From Newark's Mayor.
From Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (D) posts this welcome news:
"Police have reported ZERO looting or crimes of opportunity in Newark. And ceaseless reports of acts of kindness abound everywhere #Gratitude."
Update at 10:20 a.m. ET. New Jersey's Gov. Christie On Damage:
Speaking to reporters right now, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is warning that it will be days, if not weeks, before things are close to normal in his state. While major highways have reopened, for example, he says there has been "major damage on each and every one of New Jersey's rail lines."
And the first video images from coastal towns, he says, show that many are under water. "The level of devastation at the Jersey shore is unthinkable," he concludes.
"There's no place for me to land on the barrier islands," Christie adds. "It would be completely unsafe for homeowners" to think about going back to check their seaside homes on those islands.
"Beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," he says of the damage along the state's coast.
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET. Something To Smile About During Tough Times:
Here's your day-opening recap on where things stand:
-- Deaths: At least 16. According to The Associated Press, there have been "five in New York, three each in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, two in Connecticut, and one each in Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia. Three of the victims were children, one just 8 years old."
-- Power Outages: There are more than 7 million customers without electricity across the affected states, NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports.
-- New York Slammed: Not only was the city drenched and shut down by rising waters — authorities are also dealing with a huge fire in Queens that has destroyed about 50 homes.
-- Rescues: Authorities are trying to get hundreds of people out of Atlantic City, N.J., where waters are high, and some towns in northern New Jersey where a berm was overwhelmed by rising waters.
-- Transportation: "Airlines canceled around 12,500 flights because of the storm, a number that was expected to grow," the AP says. Amtrak service in the Northeast has been canceled for at least another day. Public transportation remains out of service in New York City. Philadelphia hopes to have some of its services restored later today. Subway and bus service around Washington, D.C., are also still suspended.
-- Schools And Stocks: Schools remain closed across much of the region from Virginia north. The financial markets in New York will be closed for a second straight day.
-- And Who's In The Path? According to the National Weather Service:
"A WEST-NORTHWEST MOTION WITH REDUCED FORWARD SPEED IS EXPECTED TODAY INTO WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA ... WITH A TURN NORTH INTO WESTERN NEW YORK TONIGHT. THE CYCLONE WILL MOVE INTO CANADA WEDNESDAY."
Update at 8:30 a.m. ET. Blizzard In West Virginia:
Thanks to Sandy, winter conditions arrived with a wallop in most of West Virginia and part of western Maryland.
There's at least a foot of snow in lower elevations and more than two feet higher up in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service. The Associated Press adds that "more than 128,000 customers in West Virginia were without power early Tuesday" and that more than 45 miles of Interstate 68, which runs along the West Virginia-Maryland border, have been closed.
Update at 8:20 a.m. ET. Hundreds Of People Trapped In Atlantic City; Flooding In Moonachie:
"Authorities are working to remove hundreds of people from heavily flooded Atlantic City and West Atlantic City" this morning, NJ.com reports. Though thousands of people evacuated before Sandy hit, many others stayed behind. On The Weather Channel moments ago, Gov. Chris Christie said that though the state had ordered an evacuation and sent buses to the city before Sandy got there, some residents reported they had heard that Mayor Lorenzo T. Langford said people could go to shelters in the city.
Also in New Jersey:
"Authorities have launched a rescue effort after a huge swell of water flooded a small northern New Jersey town early Tuesday," The Associated Press writes. "Moonachie Police Sgt. Tom Schmidt says the rush of water left about 5 feet of water in the streets within 45 minutes. The police and fire departments are flooded. Officials are using boats to try to rescue about 800 people living in a trailer park and other stranded residents. There are no reports of injuries or deaths. Local authorities initially reported a levee had broken. But Gov. Chris Christie says a berm overflowed."
Update at 8 a.m. ET. One Low-Level "Alert," But Region's Nuclear Plants Mostly Unaffected:
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "of 9 p.m. EDT Monday, no [nuclear power] plants had to shut down as a result of the storm although several plants were already out of service for regularly scheduled refueling and maintenance outages. All plants remain in a safe condition, with emergency equipment available if needed and NRC inspectors on-site."
One facility, the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey that was already in a scheduled shutdown, declared an "alert" Monday evening when water begin rising in an intake structure. The NRC says that's the "second lowest of four NRC action levels" and that water is expected to recede in coming hours.
Update at 7:30 a.m. ET. Dramatic Video:
Update at 7 a.m. ET. Some Of The Headlines:
-- "A REGION CRIPPLED: Northeast Awakes to Flooding and Huge Damage in Storm's Path; Millions Without Power." (The New York Times)
-- "Superstorm Sandy Cuts Power To 2.7 Million In Pa., N.J., Del." (WHYY's NewsWorks.org)
-- "Sandy Slams New York, New Jersey; Washington Region Spared Major Devastation." (The Washington Post)
Update at 6:40 a.m. ET. The Latest Forecast.
"THERE ARE HIGH-WIND WARNINGS IN EFFECT ... INCLUDING GALE FORCE WINDS OVER THE COASTAL WATERS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC STATES ... NEW YORK AND NEW ENGLAND. STORM WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT FOR PORTIONS OF THE MID ATLANTIC COASTAL WATERS. FLOOD AND FLASH FLOOD WATCHES AND WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT OVER PORTIONS OF THE MID-ATLANTIC AND NORTHEAST STATES."
Update at 6:30 a.m. ET. On The Fire In Queens:
WNYC reports that "firefighters are battling a massive blaze in Breezy Point, Queens. The fire has gone to six alarms and has destroyed more than 50 homes as of 4:30 a.m. 190 firefighters on scene. Only two minor injuries reported so far."
Update at 6:20 a.m. ET. Levee Break In New Jersey:
A levee has broken in northern New Jersey, the AP says, "flooding the towns of Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt." Rescue operations are under way to get to people there.
Update at 6:10 a.m. ET. Looking Back:
Here are some of our headlines from Monday, if you wish to see how the Sandy story has developed.