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October 23, 2021
WORLD

Storm-hit New York declared major disaster area

16 confirmed dead in U.S., one in Canada. Power cut to 7 million people, airports closed. At least 50 homes burn to ground in NY. New Jersey levee breaks, streets flood.

US President Barack Obama has declared a “major disaster” in New York state after storm Sandy smashed into the US East Coast, causing flooding and cutting power to millions, BBC informs.A record 4m (13ft) tidal surge sent seawater cascading into large parts of New York City’s subway system. Across the city, a power sub-station exploded, a hospital was evacuated and fire destroyed 50 homes.At least 16 people are reported dead across several US states, CNN reports. In northern New Jersey, a rescue operation is reported to be under way after a levee broke and flooded the town of Moonachie.Bergen County chief of staff Jeanne Baratta told CNN: “Moonachie has been devastated. Every street has got four or five feet of water on it.”An estimated six million homes and businesses stretching from the Carolinas to Ohio are without power. In all, about 50 million people could be affected by the storm, with up to a million ordered to evacuate their homes.The storm sent trees crashing down and left neighborhood streets looking like rivers. Floodwaters rushed into New York’s subway tunnels and ripped up part of Atlantic City’s fabled boardwalk.Hundreds of people were stranded in one New Jersey town alone Tuesday morning. And Connecticut’s governor offered ominous advice in a Twitter post: “If u find urself surrounded by water, call 4 help if u can, then get 2 highest level of home. Hang a white sheet out a street-side window.”Authorities scrambled in boats to rescue trapped residents in several towns after a berm broke in Moonachie, New Jersey.“Within 30 minutes, those towns were under 4 or 5 feet of water,” said Jeanne Baratta of Bergen County police. Hundreds of people had been rescued Tuesday morning, Gov. Chris Christie said.Meanwhile, the stench of smoke was blown across flooded streets as fierce winds and rising waters shorted out power lines and sparked fires in places such as Lindenhurst, New York.At least 50 homes burned to the ground in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens, fire officials said. The cause of the blaze was not immediately released. More than 200 firefighters battled the leaping flames.Elsewhere in New York City, emergency backup power failed and 10 feet of water flooded the basement of NYU Langone Medical Center, prompting the evacuation of 260 patients. Nurses manually pumped air to the lungs of those on respirators.Atlantic City, New Jersey, became an extension of the Atlantic Ocean. Seaweed and ocean debris swirled in the knee-deep water covering downtown streets. Forecasters say the entire Northeast corridor of the United States will bear the brunt of Sandy.Fierce winds were expected to blow from northern Georgia into Canada and as far west as Lake Michigan on Tuesday. Meanwhile, heavy rains will soak New England and parts of the Midwest.And a blizzard spawned by Sandy will bring 2 to 3 feet of snow to the mountains of West Virginia by Wednesday morning. “It’s 3 feet of heavy snow. It’s like concrete,” said meteorologist Reed Timmer, who is riding out the storm in Elkins, West Virginia.Thousands of flights will remain grounded Tuesday. Federal government offices will stay closed. And it will take between 14 hours and four days to get the water out of the subway tunnels in New York.“The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night,” said Joseph Lhota, chairman of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region.”The full scale of Sandy’s wrath has yet to be determined. But according to a government prediction, the storm’s wind damage alone could result in more than $7 billion in economic loss.Power outages spanned from Virginia to Maine, and the iconic Manhattan skyline turned eerily dark.In New York, Manhattan’s Battery Park recorded a nearly 14-foot tide, smashing a record set by 1960’s Hurricane Donna by several feet. Five hours after making landfall, Sandy still packed hurricane-force winds as it swirled about 10 miles southwest of Philadelphia.As residents in New York and New Jersey surveyed the flooding left by Sandy, many discovered their high-rise apartment buildings became islands.

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