Sandy Makes Landfall, Threatens 50 Million People on US East Coast

Posted October 29th, 2012 at 11:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The massive storm named Sandy has made landfall on the U.S. East Coast, bringing torrential rain, high winds and dangerous tidal surges to one of the nation's most densely populated regions.

Sandy – downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone – came ashore Monday some 200 kilometers south of New York, bringing a storm surge of four meters to lower Manhattan. The usually bustling city was brought to a halt. Some 250,000 people in the nation's largest city are without power, some of them due to an explosion at a power plant.

Tunnels and streets in low-lying areas of New York City are flooded, including the construction site where the World Trade Center once stood. Some residents have been ordered to evacuate. The facade of an apartment building in the Chelsea neighborhood crumbled and fell, leaving entire apartments and their furnishings exposed to the elements, including winds of 130 kilometers per hour. Cars in low-lying areas have been seen floating down the streets.

Other U.S. cities along the Eastern seaboard are also at a standstill, with public transit systems suspended, airports closed and millions of people forced to stay home from work. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in the northeast, including nearly 200,000 in the Washington area. Farther inland, a half meter of wet snow fell unseasonably in higher elevations.

About 10 U.S. deaths related to the storm have been reported.

Thousands of flights have been canceled in the U.S. mid-Atlantic and northeast. Amtrak has canceled passenger rail travel on the eastern seaboard, and major stock exchanges are closed Tuesday.

President Barack Obama canceled election campaign events Monday to monitor the storm from the White House.

Authorities in nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C. have declared states of emergency. U.S. federal government offices were closed Monday and will remain so on Tuesday. The Department of Defense says nearly 2,000 members of the National Guard have been activated to help with disaster response and some 60,000 more are on standby.

U.S. Coast Guard helicopters rescued 14 crew members who abandoned the HMS Bounty after it started to take on water off the coast of the state of North Carolina. The Coast Guard says the ship sank and that the captain is still missing. The Bounty, a replica of an 18th century tall ship, was featured in the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

Sandy killed at least 65 people in the Caribbean last week before it moved toward the United States.