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

Posted October 29th, 2012 at 9:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Hurricane Sandy, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, has made landfall on the U.S. East Coast, putting some 50 million people in the path of torrential rain, high winds and dangerous tidal surges from one of the biggest storms to hit the region in years.

Sandy came ashore on the coast of New Jersey Monday, about 10 kilometers south of Atlantic City — some 200 kilometers south of New York City, bringing storm surges of nearly three meters to lower Manhattan.

Major U.S. cities along the Eastern seaboard are at a standstill, with public transit systems suspended, airports closed and millions of people forced to stay home from work. New York's main utility has cut electricity to lower Manhattan in an effort to stave off damage to the subway system.

President Barack Obama canceled election campaign events to monitor the storm from the White House. He urged those in the storm's path to heed warnings about its dangerous nature.

“The most important message that I have for the public right now is please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given because this is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven't acted quickly.”

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.

U.S. Coast Guard helicopters rescued 15 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.”

Weather forecasters say Sandy is expected to merge with a cold weather system, transforming it into a “super storm.” New York authorities ordered the evacuation of 375,000 people from low-lying parts of the city, whose major stock markets were closed in their first unplanned shutdown since the 2001 terrorists attacks.

Officials say people who refuse to evacuate and later need to be rescued will be putting the lives of emergency workers at risk.

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