Hurricane Sandy slammed in to the U.S. East Coast killing at least 13 people and tearing down trees and power lines, triggering massive power outages late Monday night with fierce gusts and heavy rains.
Local officials have reported a total 13 deaths from the massive storm as it hammered the cities of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Carolina.
At least five people were killed in New York State including a 30-year-old man, who was crushed under a fallen tree, and another lady who stepped into an electrified puddle of water in the New York borough of Queens, Reuters reported.
Two people were killed in Morris County, New Jersey, when a tree fell on a vehicle and another woman died in Maryland hydroplaning into a tree, AFP reported quoting local officials.
One man was killed in Peabody, Massachusetts, in a bad weather related accident, and Toronto police said a Canadian woman was killed after being hit by flying debris, Reuters reported.
HMS Bounty Sinks
The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 14 of the 16 crew members who abandoned the replica tall ship HMS Bounty off North Carolina in the rough seas caused by Sandy, using helicopters on Monday to pluck them from life rafts.
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter later recovered crew member Claudene Christian, 42, but he was declared dead at the hospital, while Robin Walbridge, the 63-year-old captain of the ship, has been missing and is feared dead. The ship was featured in movies like "Mutiny on the Bounty," "Treasure Island" and "Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest.
Floods And Power Blackouts
Winds at 80 mph hit East Coast cities with heavy rainfall leading to a record 13-foot surge in the sea water at New York City, flooding its tunnels and subway stations. The flood water gushed into lower Manhattan tunnels and the construction site at Ground Zero Monday night; however, the flood water started draining out by early Tuesday morning from the city.
Most parts of the city remained without power as the New York power company Consolidated Edison Inc said they were cutting the power to save the electric equipment and the subway system from sea waters and to allow a quicker restoration after the storm passes.
The company said it will have to wait for the storm waters to recede to assess the damage to the power system and networks. An estimated 250,000 people have left Manhattan and authorities have asked the 125,000 people who chose not to evacuate to stay put in their houses.
Most parts of other cities also witnessed power outages and an estimated 2 million people are without power, as the savage wind coupled with heavy rains and snowfall ripped the trees and power lines.
The power blackout at NYU Tisch Hospital has forced the authorities to shift the patients elsewhere for care and several ambulances were seen shifting patients, including babies from neonatal care and cancer patients to other facilities. The backup generators in the hospital also failed making evacuation more difficult as elevators don’t work without power.
All federal buildings and public schools will remain closed on Tuesday. President Obama has declared a state of emergency in Washington D.C.
Sandy was stripped of its hurricane status just before its landfall, but the massive storm system with winds up to 85 miles per hour all the way up to New England has devastated the East Coast. The storm's wind field considered the largest ever stretches from the Canadian border to South Carolina and from West Virginia to an Atlantic Ocean point about halfway between the United States and Bermuda, a Reuters report said.
By Monday midnight, the center of the storm was near Philadelphia and the wind strength had come down to 75 mph.
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center said: “Although the cyclone should steadily weaken as it moves further inland...conditions will be slow to improve as strong winds and elevated water levels will persist along the coast for another day or so. Heavy rains are also expected to continue over a large area of the northeastern United States...posing a very significant inland flood risk.”