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Superstorm set to cause more havoc (with CNC3 video)
NEW YORK—The most devastating storm in decades to hit the most densely populated US region cut off modern communication and left millions without power yesterday, as thousands who fled their waterlogged homes wondered when—if—life would return to normal.
A weakening Sandy, the hurricane turned fearsome superstorm, killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, and still wasn’t finished. It inched inland across Pennsylvania, ready to bank toward western New York state to dump more of its water and likely cause more havoc last night.
Behind it: a dazed, inundated New York City, a drenched Atlantic Coast and a moonscape of disarray and debris—from unmoored shore-town boardwalks to submerged mass-transit systems to delicate presidential politics.
“Nature,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assessing the damage to his city, “is an awful lot more powerful than we are.” More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly two million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up under water—as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day from weather, the first time that has happened since a blizzard in 1888. The city’s subway system, the lifeblood of more than five million residents, was damaged like never before and closed indefinitely, and Consolidated Edison said electricity in and around New York could take a week to restore.
“It was everything they said it was,” said Sal Novello, a construction executive who rode out the storm with his wife, Lori, in the Long Island town of Lindenhurst, and ended up with seven feet (2.1 metres) of water in the basement.
The scope of the storm’s damage wasn’t known yet. Though early predictions of river flooding in Sandy’s inland path were petering out, colder temperatures made snow the main product of Sandy’s slow march from the sea. Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with two feet (0.6 metres) of snow by yester afternoon, and drifts four feet (1.2 metres) deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border in the South.
With Election Day a week away, the storm also threatened to affect the presidential campaign. Federal disaster response, always a dicey political issue, has become even thornier since government mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005. And poll access and voter turnout, both of which hinge upon how people are impacted by the storm, could help shift the outcome in an extremely close race.
As organised civilization came roaring back yesterday in the form of emergency response, recharged mobile phones and the reassurance of daylight, harrowing stories emerged in the hours after Sandy’s howling winds and tidal surges shoved water over seaside barriers, into low-lying streets and up from coastal storm drains. (AP)
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