Through Pennsylvania, then Ontario.
Sandy may have ravaged New York City, but she isn’t done yet. The hurricane is heading west through the south of Pennsylvania and western New York state, with furious 65mph winds and rain. After flooding Georgia and Maine Tuesday morning, the storm has brought upon a blizzard warning and three feet of snow expected in West Virginia. The storm is no longer expected to head to the Northeast and New England. As it moves inland there will be less rain, but wind speeds will likely remain high. After hitting the U.S., Sandy is expected to go to southern Ontario on Wednesday.
At least 10 in New York City.
The official death toll in the U.S. from the superstorm Sandy climbed to 35 by Tuesday, with most of the fatalities being attributed to falling trees. The storm continued on its path through Pennsylvania, cutting power to about 8 million people. The storm’s winds weakened to about 45 miles per hour, but forecasters were still warning that more flooding could be on the way especially as Sandy makes her way towards the Great Lakes. New Jersey and New York City bore the brunt of the storm with whole neighborhoods underwater and the transit systems shut down indefinitely.
Seaside Heights roller coaster ends up in water.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that the devastation to the state’s historic coast is “unthinkable” in the wake of the deadly “Frankenstorm”—and that it would be “completely unsafe” for anyone to return home immediately. A roller coaster in Seaside Heights (source NBC4) was literally thrown into the water. “It is beyond anything I would ever see,” a somber Christie told reporters. Christie said he didn’t give “a lick” about Election Day, saying “I’ve got bigger fish to fry.” Christie also praised President Obama, saying “he assured me we would have an expedited process with FEMA.” Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, and the city’s historic boardwalk was swept away with water.
As Manhattan reels from the monster storm, The Daily Beast reports on the flooding, power outages, and more. Plus, check out the storm tracker on the right side of the page to see where Hurricane Sandy is now.
TUESDAY, OCT. 30
Screwed in Red Hook
by Eliza Shapiro
Five feet of seawater tore through the streets of the low-lying Brooklyn neighborhood Monday night. While the owner of one flooded bar is pledging to stay open, a teary billiards-hall proprietor says she’s ruined. Eliza Shapiro reports.
Manhattanites Assess the Damage
by Matthew DeLuca
A brilliant explosion, and then darkness: the morning after the Frankenstorm, Matthew DeLuca reports on the scene in lower Manhattan.
David Letterman films without audience.
No time for jokes in New York City. The massive Hurricane Sandy caused late-night comedy shows to cancel their performances on Monday night, and even Jimmy Kimmel canceled his much-touted Barclays Center performance. David Letterman made the best use of the phrase “The show must go on,” taping his show but without the live studio audience. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert both canceled tapings, and there was no word yet whether they would resume on Tuesday. Journey’s Barclays Center performance, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled, and the benefit concert Freedom to Love Now! was postponed to spring 2013.
The powerful storm battered the Lower Manhattan neighborhood, submerging police cars and blocking the sewage system with debris as wary residents watched for possible looters.
It was around 8:15 p.m. when residents on the Lower East Side saw the sky flash emerald green.
Vehicles are submerged on 14th Street in New York’s Alphabet City on Oct. 29. (John Minchillo / AP Photo)
"There were three flashes of light and then we heard one big blast of noise," said Emily Van Scoi of Boston, who was visiting friends from New York University. At 9 p.m., she said, everything went black. All of Lower Manhattan had lost power—and remained without it as of 6 a.m.
"Con Edison left me an automated message earlier and sent me two emails warning that our power might go out," said Joan Silveira, 19, who had walked a block from his apartment toward Avenue D and 2nd Street to see the floodwaters spilling into Alphabet City from the East River.
The streets were black aside from the distant flashing red and blue lights of fire trucks and police cars responding to Hurricane Sandy.
"We haven't seen any looters yet," said Silveira. "But I suspect that's why there are cops everywhere."
Six blocks north, on 8th Street, flooding was inexplicably worse between Avenue C and B, where a slew of police cars were submerged. Residents poked their heads out their windows several stories up and watched water rushing down the street, carrying along bicycles, mattresses, and other debris.
"It's like a funnel," someone remarked, standing thigh-deep in water on the sidewalk.
Everyday New York is closed could cost $10 billion.
Hurricane Sandy brought the financial world to its knees as well, with the stock market closing Tuesday, for the second straight day, in the aftermath of the hurricane. Wall Street worried about whether the markets will open by Wednesday, the last day of trading for the month of October, when traders price portfolios. Economists said the massive storm is unlikely to cause financial damage as severe as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and the damage to the economy should be short-lived. But, economists warned, gross domestic product in the Northeast is about $2.5 trillion, and every day the region is shut down could cost about $10 billion in forgone output.
After Sandy kills 51.
Haiti still reeled on Tuesday from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the country with three days of rain and left 51 people dead so far, the highest death toll of any country. The United Nations warned that flooding and unsanitary conditions could lead to a cholera epidemic, two years after a cholera epidemic in 2010 sickened 600,000 people and killed more than 7,400. Crops were also wiped out by the storm, with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe saying the hurricane had been devastating even by international standards, and the country would be making an appeal for emergency aid.
At least two deaths at Jersey shore.
The famed Atlantic City boardwalk was flooded Tuesday morning, hours after the storm made landfall nearby at 8 p.m. on Monday. “The city is under siege,” said Thomas Foley, the chief of the city’s emergency management. “I’ve never seen anything like this.” At least two deaths in the city were blamed on the storm. While the casinos’ lights still shone, winds whipped by at 80 miles per hour while water washed into the city’s streets, trapping anyone who stayed. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lashed out at Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford on Monday, with the governor saying he could not “in good conscience send rescuers in” since the mayor had told residents they could stay if they could not find a way to leave.
All 215 patients are evacuated from NYU hospital.
New York City’s transit chief called Hurricane Sandy the most “devastating” event to the city’s subway system ever while the rest of the city reeled from the storm early Tuesday morning. As of Monday night, seven subway tunnels under the East River had flooded, as did the Queens Midtown Tunnel—and Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joseph Lhota said there is “no firm timeline” for when the system would be back up and running, even as nearly every bridge and tunnel out of Manhattan was closed down. A backup electrical system failed New York University Medical Center, one of the city’s best hospitals, forcing the evacuation all 215 patients in the strong wind gusts. Meanwhile, a six-alarm fire at Breezy Point in southern Queens had destroyed 50 houses, with 198 firefighters fighting the blaze.
The nation’s capital is deserted as Hurricane Sandy strikes. Lauren Ashburn talks to a few of the hardy souls, from tourists to construction workers to a pizzeria manager, who braved the torrential rains.
One block from the White House, a forlorn figure in a blue blazer, head down, umbrella high, moves quickly down the windswept street. He is one of the brave few on the streets of Washington as sheets of rain marked the beginning of Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the capital.
A bicyclist on the deserted Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington D.C., on Oct. 29. Federal offices in the capital area were closed as Hurricane Sandy came crashing into the East Coast. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced that only emergency employees were to report to work. (Mladen Antonov / Getty Images)
"I was trying to attend the press briefing at the White House, my very first time," said Ben Bowman, a Northwestern University journalism grad student studying in Washington for a semester. "It turns out when they say the briefing is at 12:45, you've got to get there 20 minutes early."
The usually teeming Federal City is a ghost town. Not one person could be seen on Independence Avenue, where rows of bland neoclassical federal buildings have been shuttered. On Pennsylvania Avenue, along the heavily fortified pedestrian walkway in front of the White House, nary a visitor dared to stand up to the whipping winds and sideways sheets of Sandy-driven rain. Even the omnipresent protesters have taken the day off.
And there was no news at the Newseum: its sidewalk glass cases were displaying worldwide newspaper front pages from yesterday.
Despite the extreme weather, a few hardy souls were gathered in the torrential rain on the National Mall, across from the Capitol, seemingly in no hurry. "We wanted to take a picture," a drenched Wand Yu-Hon explained, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. They had come from China.
“It took us so long to get here," her friend Olga added. "We don't have so much time."
They soon rejoined a bus of 16 Chinese tourists, whose next stop is Boston—which also is being hit hard by the hurricane.
With Obama still ahead in Ohio, Romney could need the Badger State’s 10 electoral votes to have a path to 270, reports Matt Taylor.
Hurricane Sandy may be a safe distance from Wisconsin, but the Frankenstorm has upended Mitt Romney’s late push to claim the Badger State’s 10 electoral votes.
The Republican presidential nominee was compelled to ax an event in suburban Milwaukee, a GOP stronghold, Monday evening as his team (like President Obama’s) apparently decided to stop politicking with flooding, power outages, and even deaths on the horizon.
But a Romney visit may not have made all that much difference, as just a few months removed from the conservative movement’s resounding victory over organized labor in the bitter Scott Walker recall fight, Wisconsin seems to have reverted to its old left-of-center self when it comes to national politics.
Not only do polls show President Obama still ahead (albeit by far less than his 14-point margin from four years ago), but Tammy Baldwin, a liberal Democratic congresswoman who represents the college town of Madison and was assumed to have an uphill battle on her hands, has drawn even in the polls in her bid to take out popular former Republican governor Tommy Thompson in the U.S. Senate race.
The Republicans predictions of a new era of conservative hegemony after public-sector unions failed to recall Gov. Scott Walker now seem were more than a little premature in a state that lasted backed a Republican presidential candidate in 1984.
Mitt Romney could take a hit from Hurricane Sandy in Wisconsin, but what does the storm mean for other pols? Watch our mashup of politicians responding to 'Frakenstorm.'
Wisconsin political insiders and longtime observers of the state’s elections don’t dismiss out of hand the possibility of a Romney upset, but given that George W. Bush came up a few thousand votes short here both in 2000 and 2004 (while winning neighbor Ohio), a last-minute sprint by Romney suggests fear that the electoral college math just isn’t adding up in some of the swing states he originally intended to win, like Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia.
Forget the rain, the wind, the surge. Worry about your plumbing. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz on the public-health threat to the water supply—and why government works.
With Sandy bearing down upon us, many people are worried important things: Will work be canceled tomorrow? What about the elevators—will I have to hoof it up nine flights to get home? And what if cable service gets screwed up and I miss the next episode of Homeland?
A man looks out on the Manhattan skyline and Hudson River as Hurricane Sandy begins to affect the area on October 29, 2012 in Hoboken, N.J. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced states of emergency and closures of public transit. (Michael Bocchieri / Getty Images)
Not small issues to be sure, but way off the mark. What we all should be worrying about is plumbing. It’s not the water lashing the beaches that matters; it’s the water in your faucet and toilet.
Here’s a simple example of why. In April 1993, 400,000 people in Milwaukee (total population: 1.6 million) became ill from an intestinal microbe, cryptosporidium, courtesy of contaminated drinking water. Each developed a week-plus of diarrhea and general intestinal misery; of them, more than 100, all with abnormal immune systems, died. How and why did it happen? Bad plumbing. The city’s water filtration system, which took Lake Michigan water and (allegedly) filtered it clean, failed for some reason—and cryptosporidium entered the water supply, then people’s stomachs. Perhaps the spring rains overwhelmed the filtering capacity. Perhaps an unusually large run-off of cryptosporidium from the excrement of various local farm animals spiked the lake. Perhaps this, perhaps that but the skinny was that too much water passed across filters built to handle most of the contaminations most of the time—but not all the super extreme oh-my-god contaminations all of the time—and predictably failed.
More than email or mass transit or your favorite diner, all of urban life depends on plumbing—defined in practical terms as the effective provision of clean water for drinking and the regular removal of waste to a place nowhere near the source of clean water. The ancient Romans with their Cloaca Maxima were able to rule the world because of their attention (OK, obsession) to this elemental fact. Pliny the Elder considered their plumbing to be the greatest accomplishment of the Roman Empire. Clean in and waste out, in and out, in and out—that’s how civilization grows. Societies that accomplish this flourish while those that cannot generally struggle to move beyond the most rudimentary hand-to-mouth subsistence.
Yet most of today’s survival tips out there have only to do with keeping your food from spoiling or your ice icy. Sure, food is mighty important, but food is easy. No one will starve here (except those inexplicably ignored persons who already are starving). We might suffer through—gasp—some days of dull cuisine, stuck with goodies like PBJ on white bread, scrambled eggs for dinner, or boiled noodles with ketchup. Tough, I know. But the problem is not one of food shortages but, alas, one of excrement. Raw sewage. Shit. In your water supply.
The usual sequence when the water supply is disrupted is to use bottled water. In resource-strapped countries like Haiti after the earthquake or in New Orleans after Katrina, the clean bottled water runs out or isn’t supplied widely and consistently enough. And similar to those two now-legendary disasters, if the pipes are not fixed and a return to faucet-based life restored, infections begin. People drinking dirty water contaminated with, say, cryptosporidium or cholera or E coli, or whatever extra awful microbe is around. It kills thousands after every major natural disaster, unless the old in-with-the-fresh, out-with-the-waste rhythm of the Cloaca Maxima can be restored.
With 11 feet of water set to crash onto the shore-hemmed city of New York, what assurances do we have that New York City will not become Milwaukee-by-the-sea or, more disturbing, something like Port-au-Gotham? Plenty—New York City and, I suspect, other urban centers, has a forward-thinking approach to the water supply informed with hard-earned lessons from Haiti and New Orleans. New Yorkers use 1.3 billion gallons of water each day, sending it downstream across 7,400 miles of sewer pipes. That’s about 160 gallons per head per day. The Department of Sanitation sees it in basic terms: fresh water in (mostly from the lakes and reservoirs) and used water out. Logic and civic planning prevail. This is your government actually working (!).
The massive waves may be a siren song for the hang-ten set. But listen to Mayor Bloomberg and sit this one out. By Josh Dzieza
Other than weathermen, surfers are probably the only people who gleefully run to the beach when they hear a hurricane is coming. All through the fall, they watch tropical depressions and hope that one will spin its way far enough north to send swells to the normally wave-starved mid-Atlantic states. Hurricanes like Isaac and Leslie brought some of the best waves of the year, and as recently as a couple days ago surfers hoped that Sandy could be another such storm. Now it’s clear that it’s not.
A man surfs as Hurricane Sandy approaches in Long Beach, N.Y., Oct. 28, 2012. (Mike Stobe / Getty Images)
“Let me say something again and again and again: please, the beaches are dangerous and surfing is extremely dangerous,” an exasperated Mayor Bloomberg warned on Saturday. It was one of several pleas for “the young kids going out and surfing” to get out of the water and go home. If Bloomberg’s surfing bona fides are in doubt, ask Mike Watson, a forecaster for the surf modeling company Surfline: “This is no longer a surf situation, it’s a stay-safe situation.”
Still, there was a small window before the storm hit when experienced surfers went out. Jesse Farmer, a veteran hurricane surfer from North Carolina who is now studying climate science at Columbia University, says he saw about 50 people in the water at Long Beach early Sunday afternoon. “I saw a couple great waves, local guys who had the place dialed and knew it in and out.” But, he said, by the afternoon it was like being in a washing machine; there were waves breaking unexpectedly in different places, powerful gusts, and a strong current sucking everyone sideways down the beach. By late afternoon people were getting out of the water, and by the next morning conditions were worse still. Anyone foolhardy enough to venture into the churning mess on Monday received a summons, as did two surfers at Coney Island (which isn't a beach people normally surf at).
Hurricanes can bring great surf to the East Coast—but not when they collide with a nor'easter, turn west, and come ashore as the largest Atlantic storm ever recorded. “What you want is a storm like Katia last year, that just sits out in the Atlantic,” said Farmer. Katia arrived just in time for last year’s Quicksilver Pro surfing event in Long Beach, disproving the many skeptics who believed New York could never host a world-tour-level surf competition. Hurricanes generate lots of waves of different sizes and speeds; when the storm stays out at sea, the smaller waves dissipate and only the largest make it ashore, sorted into sets of similar size. But when the storm makes landfall, you get the small waves along with the big, all mashed together in a disorganized jumble. Add gusts blowing the tops off waves, and it doesn’t make for good surfing.
What happens when thrill seekers do get caught at sea? Watch a heroic Coast Guard rescue of boaters caught in Sandy.
Down in Florida, far from the storm, it’s a slightly different story. “It took some time to settle down, but it’s been a pretty solid event,” says Watson, who lives in Florida. There were reports of 20-foot waves on Saturday, and big-wave surfers were towing into Pumphouse in Palm Beach. (It’s so hard to paddle out in waves that big that people have to Jet Ski out, catch a wave, and ride it to the channel where it dies in deeper water.) But as the storm moved closer to shore around North Carolina, the situation worsened. The winds got stronger, the waves choppier, the current faster. And it’s not just the water—there are large pieces of wood from broken piers and beach-house decks that waves can fling at you. “This is now a matter of life, property, and staying safe,” says Watson.
The surfing outlook isn’t good for after the storm, either. Irene moved through fast enough that there was some swell left over after the wind died. Watson doesn’t think that will happen with Sandy. The storm is too big and moving too slowly. On the south of the storm, the counterclockwise winds blowing out to sea will likely knock down much of the swell before the storm passes.
Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys veterans to help with disaster recovery, did their part to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy in lower Manhattan last week. Team member Curtis Coleman, a former Marine, shares his thoughts on heroic leadership.
As Hurricane Sandy barrels toward the northeast, see some of the most hilarious wind-blown reports.