At least 11 dead as Sandy slams ashore, paralyzing much of US East Coast.
The storm began breaking up as it hit the south New Jersey shore Monday evening with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, later dropping to 75 miles per hour. But it continued to wreak destruction across 11 states and the District of Columbia even after having been downgraded from hurricane status.
"You have to stay wherever you are," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said late Monday, telling New Yorkers they threatened their own and other people's lives by going out in the storm.
"DO NOT DRIVE. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies only," the city's Office of Emergency Preparedness said in blast alerts to mobile devices across the city.
New York University's medical center was diverting patients to other hospitals because its backup generators were out, Bloomberg said.
The National Hurricane Center re-designated Sandy as a "post-tropical cyclone," saying it was rapidly losing its tropical characteristics as it merged into an enormous nor'easter.
However, the National Weather Service predicted "historic and life-threatening coastal flooding" through Tuesday morning, with the greatest danger coming at high tide, a condition made worse by a full moon.
The storm flooded sections of Atlantic City and other areas of the New Jersey shore, while New York Harbor surged into lower Manhattan and areas of Brooklyn, submerging entire streets and parks.
A male was killed in Hawthorne, New Jersey, when a tree fell on a house around 7:30 p.m., officials reported. His death was among the 11 reported as a result of the storm in the United States as of late Monday, including three in New Jersey. Sandy killed at least 67 people in the Caribbean as it moved north, 51 of them in Haiti.
The New York mayor's office reported around 10 p.m. that the city's 911 dispatchers were receiving about 10,000 calls per half hour.
A female died of electrical shock around 8 p.m. Sunday in the New York City borough of Queens when she stepped into a puddle, police said.
Sandy made landfall at Atlantic City, New Jersey, about 6:45 p.m., and by 9 p.m., its center was about 15 miles northwest of Atlantic City. At 9:24 p.m., the water level at Battery Park, on the southern tip of Manhattan, had reached 13.8 feet, surpassing the previous record of 11.2 feet set in 1821.
More than 4 million customers had already lost power across the eastern half of the country. About half were in New York and New Jersey, including about a quarter-million in Lower Manhattan, said a spokesman for Con Ed. The utility pre-emptively began shutting off power to part of Lower Manhattan to protect its equipment and to allow for faster restoration after the storm had passed.
Schools, offices, roads and transit systems shut down on Monday across an area of 50 million people.
As Sandy struck Atlantic City, washing away part of the famous boardwalk, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie criticized Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, whom he blamed for having "advised people to stay in shelters in the city." Business experts feared long-term, potentially catastrophic economic damage because of Sandy's tidal surge. US stock exchanges did not trade Monday and will be closed on Tuesday. In Washington, federal offices closed Monday and Tuesday, and federal courts in affected areas announced that they would be shuttered.
More than 13,000 flights were canceled across the United States on Monday, and more than 3,500 were called off for Tuesday. Rail traffic was heavily affected, with Amtrak canceling its Northeast Corridor train service in addition to some other lines. Workers began shutting down New York City's subway, bus and commuter railroads on Sunday night. In New York, a crane atop a high-rise building under construction toppled over and was dangling over the side. Nearby offices and streets were evacuated. Sandy was on track to collide with arctic air and a storm moving in from the west to create windy, wet and snowy conditions far inland. Winter storm warnings were issued through Wednesday morning for southwest Virginia and the east Tennessee mountains, where snow had already started falling. More than 30 inches of snow was expected in the higher elevations of West Virginia, and a foot was forecast in the North Carolina mountains. Power failures were expected to continue affecting millions of residents and businesses and could continue through the presidential election on Nov. 6, meteorologists said.(end) rm.asa KUNA 301135 Oct 12NNNN
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