As Hurricane Sandy churned slowly inland US, millions along the East Coast awoke on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 without power or mass transit.
By latest reports more than 150 people were killed in US. New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial market closed for a second day. NY subway system was flooded with the worst damage in the 108-year history, according to Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
US president Barack Obama declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island, making federal funding available to residents of the area. The damage is “almost incalculable,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said and added that seaside rail lines were washed away. Parts of the coast still under water. “It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” he said. “It is a devastating sight right now.”
After a backup generator failed, New York University’s Tisch Hospital began evacuating more than 200 patients to other facilities, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care, some of them on respirators operating on battery power. Without power, the hospital had no elevator service, meaning patients had to be carefully carried down staircases and outside into the weather. Gusts of wind blew their blankets as nurses held IVs and other equipment.
The New York fire department said more than 50 homes have been completely destroyed at Breezy Point in Queens.
A massive explosion rocked a Con Edison plant near East 14th Street and the FDR.
The storm was once Hurricane Sandy but combined with two wintry systems to become a huge hybrid storm whose center smashed ashore late Monday in New Jersey. New York City was perfectly positioned to absorb the worst of its storm surge — a record 13 feet. While the hurricane’s 90 mph ( 144 km/h) winds registered as only a Category 1 on a scale of five, it packed “astoundingly low” barometric pressure, giving it terrific energy to push water inland, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at MIT.
The storm reached well into the Midwest. Chicago warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepared for winds of up to 60 mph and waves exceeding 24 feet well into Wednesday.
69 people were killed in the Caribbean before Sandy made its way up the Eastern Seaboard.
Hurricane Sandy is now a post-tropical cyclone, located west of Philadelphia and was expected to take a turn north later on Tuesday. It would then pass through New York State on its way to Canada, crossing the border sometime on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NWS) said.
The storm, while steadily weakening, could still cause coastal surges that, when combined with the next high tide on Tuesday, could cause some flooding, the NWS said.
At 15:00 UTC NWS located Sandy about 120 miles (190 km) ESE of Pittsburgh and about 145 miles (235 km) W of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Maximum sustained winds were 45 mph (72 km/h). Sandy was moving toward the west at 10 mph (16 km/h).
High wind warnings are in effect along the central to southern Appalachians and across portions of the Great Lakes. Storm warnings remain in effect along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coast, from Virginia to Massachusetts. Storm warnings are also in effect for the Great Lakes. Flood and coastal flood watches, warnings and advisories are in effect over portions of the Mid-Atlantic and northeast states.
Blizzard warnings remain in effect along the higher elevations of central Appalachians.
Nuclear power plants
Sandy forced three nuclear power plants to shut and put another on alert as federal regulators dispatched inspectors to monitor 11 facilities in the path of the storm.
(1) An alert was declared at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey because of water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. An “unusual event” was declared around 7 p.m., local time, on Monday, October 29, 2012. The situation was upgraded to an “alert” about two hours later. Water level was rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge, according to the NRC.
(2) Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG) manually closed its 1,174-megawatt Salem Unit 1, about 18 miles south of Wilmington, Delaware, when four of six circulating pumps were no longer available because of weather, according to Joe Delmar, a company spokesman. The unit operated at full power yesterday, while unit 2 was shut for refueling.
(3) Nine Mile Point in Scriba, New York, was automatically shut down after a power disruption to a switchyard, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Energy Corp.’s Indian Point 3 nuclear plant in New York also automatically closed at 10:41 p.m. yesterday because of power-grid issues from the storm, Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman based in King of Prussian, Pennsylvania, said today.
Update: By November 1, 2012 reports said more than 150 people have died and the damage is estimated to more than 30 billion USD. 30 mlrd, more than 150
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