Hurricane Sandy lived up to the hype of being one of the largest and strongest hurricanes to hit the northern East Coast in recent history. Some 2 million New Yorkers are without power this morning, as are millions more in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, and beyond. The Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) has said that its Philadelphia area customers should prepare to be without service for a week or longer.
Schools, offices, and public transportation systems across the East Coast are closed for another day, as the area recovers from extensive flooding as a result of Sandy’s record setting storm surge—which reached an unprecedented 13 feet in Lower Manhattan yesterday evening. Even the New York Stock Exchange announced it will be closed again today—its first 2-day closure due to weather since a blizzard in 1888.
"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."
Among the chaos, an unexpected disaster—a fire in a flooded area of Queens that drew nearly 200 firefighters by boat—destroyed some 50 houses last night. Officials managed to successfully rescue about 25 people from the blaze by climbing a first-story awning, but weren’t able to immediately identify its cause, The Huffington Post reported.
Even those best prepared for a storm like this, such as New York University's Tisch Hospital, couldn’t fight off Sandy. When the hospital’s backup generator failed, it was forced to evacuate more than 200 patients, including some 20 babies from neonatal intensive care, using batteries to power needed respirators. Parts of two nuclear power plants—one about 45 miles north of NYC and the other in southern New Jersey—were also shut down last night as a result of electrical grid and water pump issues, respectively. And in Manhattan, 19 workers became trapped inside a Consolidated Edison power station as water levels rose, according to Reuters.
"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison. "This will be the largest storm-related outage in our history."
Sandy is now expected to weaken as it heads into western Pennsylvania and New York State this evening, reaching Canada some time tomorrow. In its wake, it leaves a trail of disaster, killing some 85 people throughout Caribbean, US and Canada. Read how you can help rescue and recovery efforts.