Residents and businesses began a massive clean-up effort Tuesday, even as large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with hurricane force cut power to more than 8.2 million across the East and put the presidential campaign on hold just one week before Election Day.
New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city’s subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest U.S. transit system would be rolling again.
But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived. Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.
A hoarse-voiced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: Seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state’s barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water.
“It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” he said. “It is a devastating sight right now.”
President Obama will travel to New Jersey on Wednesday to view damage caused by the massive storm, the White House said in a statement.
Obama canceled campaign appearances planned for Ohio on Wednesday because of the storm.
Millions of people from Maine to the Carolinas awoke Tuesday without electricity, and an eerily quiet New York City was all but closed off by car, train and air as superstorm Sandy steamed inland, still delivering punishing wind and rain.
Jersey City was closed to cars because traffic lights were out, and Hoboken, just over the Hudson River from Manhattan, was hit with major flooding.
A huge swell of water swept over the small New Jersey town of Moonachie, near the Hackensack River, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some living in a trailer park. And in neighboring Little Ferry, water suddenly started gushing out of storm drains overnight, submerging a road under 4 feet of water and swamping houses.
Police and fire officials used boats and trucks to reach the stranded.
“I looked out and the next thing you know, the water just came up through the grates. It came up so quickly you couldn’t do anything about it. If you wanted to move your car to higher ground you didn’t have enough time,” said Little Ferry resident Leo Quigley, who with his wife was taken to higher ground by boat.
The death toll from Sandy in the U.S. included several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard.
Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights. New York City’s three major airports remained closed.
“This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled again Tuesday after the storm sent a nearly 14-foot surge of seawater, a record, coursing over its seawalls and highways and into low-lying streets. The water inundated tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street and sent hospital patients and tourists scrambling for safety. Skyscrapers swayed and creaked in winds that partially toppled a crane 74 stories above Midtown. A large tanker ship ran aground on the city’s Staten Island.
“This will be one for the record books,” said John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison, which had more than 670,000 customers without power in and around New York City.
In New Jersey, where the superstorm came ashore, a huge swell of water swept over the small town of Moonachie, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some of them living in a trailer park. Police and fire officials used boats to try to reach the stranded.
“I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground. I watched a tree crush a guy’s house like a wet sponge,” mobile home park resident Juan Allen said.
The massive storm reached well into the Midwest with heavy rain and snow. Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepared for winds of up to 60 mph (96 kph) and waves exceeding 24 feet (7.2 meters) well into Wednesday.
Curiosity turned to concern overnight as New York City residents watched whole neighborhoods disappear into darkness as power was cut. The World Trade Center site was a glowing ghost near the tip of Lower Manhattan. Residents reported seeing no lights but the strobes of emergency vehicles and the glimpses of flashlights in nearby apartments. Lobbies were flooded, cars floated and people started to worry about food.
As Hurricane Sandy closed in on the Northeast, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a monstrous hybrid of rain and high winds — even bringing snow in West Virginia and other mountainous areas inland.
Just before it made landfall, forecasters stripped Sandy of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force winds.
While the hurricane’s 90 mph (144 kph) winds registered as only a Category 1 on a scale of five, it packed “astoundingly low” barometric pressure, giving it terrific energy to push water inland, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at MIT.
“We are looking at the highest storm surges ever recorded” in the Northeast, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director for Weather Underground, a private forecasting service.
Tunnels and bridges to Manhattan were shut down, and some flooded. [nggallery id=5]
“We have no idea how long it’s going to take” to restore the transit system, MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said Tuesday.
New York University’s Tisch Hospital was forced to evacuate 200 patients after its backup generator failed. NYU Medical Dean Robert Grossman said patients — among them 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit who were on battery-powered respirators — had to be carried down staircases and to dozens of ambulances waiting to take them to other hospitals.
A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise overlooking Central Park collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Thousands of people were ordered to leave several nearby buildings as a precaution.
Reggie Thomas emerged Tuesday morning from his job as a maintenance supervisor at a prison near the overflowing Hudson River, a toothbrush in his front pocket, to find his 2011 Honda with its windows down and a foot (304 millimeters) of water inside.
“It’s totaled,” Thomas said, with a shrug. “You would have needed a boat last night.”
In the storm’s wake, President Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that “major disasters” existed in both states. One disaster-forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, only half insured. Add an additional $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.
In the long run, the devastation the storm inflicted on New York City and other parts of the Northeast will barely nick the U.S. economy. That’s the view of economists who say higher gas prices and a slightly slower economy in coming weeks will likely be matched by reconstruction and repairs that will contribute to growth over time.
The short-term blow to the economy, though, could subtract about 0.6 percentage point from U.S. economic growth in the October-December quarter, IHS says. Retailers, airlines and home construction firms will likely lose some business.
The New York City Marathon is scheduled for Saturday. But there are many questions about whether transportation not just to and from the city, but also in and around the city, will be ready in time. The marathon pours an estimated $350 million into the city each year. But it also requires major support from city departments that are being strained by the storm.
New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said Monday they had a long list of contingency plans already in place to deal with any obstacles that might arise. The biggest concerns centered on getting runners to the start on Staten Island.
The 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs mostly avoids areas considered at highest risk for flooding.
SCENES OF DESTRUCTION
All along the East Coast, residents and business owners awoke to scenes of destruction.
“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean,” said evacuee Peter Sandomeno, one of the owners of the Broadway Court Motel in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. “That’s the worst storm I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been there for 11 years.”
Sandy, which was especially imposing because of its wide-ranging winds, brought a record storm surge of almost 14 feet to downtown Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.
Water poured into the subway tunnels that course under the city, the country’s financial capital, and Bloomberg said the subway system would likely be closed for four or five days.
“Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time,” said Jeffrey Tongue, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York.
Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, he said. “Hopefully it’s a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” Tongue said.
As residents and business owners began a massive clean-up effort and faced a long and costly recovery, large parts of the region remained without power, and transportation in the New York metropolitan area was at a standstill.
The U.S. Department of Energy said more than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity due to the storm, which crashed ashore late on Monday near the gambling resort of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
MORE THAN 50 HOMES BURN
The unprecedented flooding hampered efforts to fight a massive fire that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point, a private beach community on the Rockaway barrier island in the New York City borough of Queens.
New York University’s Tisch hospital was forced to evacuate more than 200 patients, among them babies on respirators in the neonatal intensive care unit, when the backup generator failed. Four of the newborns had to be carried down nine flights of stairs while nurses manually squeezed bags to deliver air to the babies’ lungs, CNN reported.
The death toll continued to climb.
“Sadly the storm claimed lives throughout the region, including at least 10 in our city … and we expect that number to go up,” Bloomberg said.
Other storm-related deaths were reported elsewhere in New York state in addition to Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death – a woman hit by flying debris.
Sandy killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week before pounding U.S. coastal areas.
Federal government offices in Washington, which was spared the full force of the storm, were closed for a second day on Tuesday, and schools were shut up and down the East Coast.
The storm weakened as it plowed slowly west across southern Pennsylvania, its remnants situated between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with maximum winds down to 45 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
As Sandy converged with a cold weather system, blizzard warnings were in effect for West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina.
Wind gusts, rain and flooding were likely to extend well into Tuesday, but without the storm’s earlier devastating power, said AccuWeather meteorologist Jim Dickey.
At its peak, the storm’s wind field stretched from North Carolina north to the Canadian border and from West Virginia to a point in the Atlantic Ocean halfway to Bermuda, easily one of the largest ever seen, the hurricane center said.
Obama and Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day instead of launching their final push for votes ahead of the November 6 election.
Obama, who has made every effort to show himself staying on top of the storm situation, faces political danger if the federal government fails to respond well in the storm’s aftermath, as was the case with predecessor George W. Bush’s botched handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But Obama also has a chance to look presidential in a national crisis.
With politics cast aside for the moment, Republican Christie heaped praise on the Democratic incumbent for the government’s initial storm response.
“The federal government response has been great,” Christie, a staunch Romney supporter, told NBC’s “Today” show. “I was on the phone at midnight again last night with the president personally … and the president has been outstanding in this.”
In New York, a crane partially collapsed and dangled precariously from a 90-story luxury apartment building under construction in Midtown Manhattan.
Much of the city was deserted, as its subways, buses, commuter trains, bridges and airports were closed. Power outages darkened most of downtown Manhattan as well as Westchester County, affecting more than 650,000 customers, power company Consolidated Edison said.
Neighborhoods along the East and Hudson rivers in Manhattan were underwater, as were low-lying streets in Battery Park near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center once stood.
U.S. stock markets were closed on Tuesday but would likely reopen on Wednesday. They closed on Monday for the first time since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Most areas in downtown Manhattan were without power on Monday morning. As the sun rose, most of the water in Manhattan’s low-lying Battery Park City appeared to have receded.
A security guard at 7 World Trade Center, Gregory Baldwin, was catching some rest in his car after laboring overnight against floodwater that engulfed a nearby office building.
“The water went inside up to here,” he said, pointing to his chest. “The water came shooting down from Battery Park with the gusting wind.”
In Lower Manhattan, firefighters used inflatable orange boats to rescue utility workers stranded for three hours by rising floodwaters inside a power substation.
One of the Con Ed workers pulled from the floodwater, Angelo Amato, said he was part of a crew who had offered to work through the storm.
“This is what happens when you volunteer,” he said.
Jennifer Lopez to Be Honored at iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina
Jennifer Lopez will soon be adding another award to her mantel.
The “On the Floor” singer will be honored with the fourth annual iHeartRadio Premio Corazón Latino Award at the upcoming iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina music festival – held this year at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida.
Festival producers iHeartMedia announced the news on Monday. The celebrated musical icon will be honored with the award in recognition for her many philanthropic and humanitarian efforts in regards to disaster relief, international human rights and children’s health across the world.
“This year, we’re truly excited to honor the hardest working woman in showbiz with the iHeartRadio Premio Corazón Latino Award,” Enrique Santos, Chairman, and CCO for iHeartLatino, shared in the press release announcing the news. “As a global advocate for children, women and all Latinos, the list of foundations and charities that J. Lo has supported throughout her career are endless and the positive impact that she’s had on the entire entertainment industry and so many lives is immeasurable.”
“I can’t wait to see the queen dominate our stage this year,” added Santos, who is also hosting the star-studded event this year.
Apart of being honored with the prestigious award, Lopez is also set to perform live, along with a number of other superstars including Pedro Capó, Gente de Zona, Daddy Yankee, Ozuna, Jowell & Randy, Tito El Bambino, and Sech, among others.
The 2019 iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina will Livestream exclusively on LiveXLive.com and will broadcast live on iHeartMedia Spanish-Pop, Tropical, regional Mexican and Spanish Adult Hit radio stations nationwide on Nov. 2. Tickets for the festival are available now.
Budget cuts to slash U.S. Army to smallest since before World War Two
The Pentagon said on Monday it would shrink the U.S. Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 spending caps, setting up an election-year fight with the Congress over national defense priorities. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, previewing the Pentagon’s ideas on how to…
The Pentagon said on Monday it would shrink the U.S. Army to pre-World War Two levels, eliminate the popular A-10 aircraft and reduce military benefits in order to meet 2015 spending caps, setting up an election-year fight with the Congress over national defense priorities.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, previewing the Pentagon’s ideas on how to adapt to government belt-tightening, said the defense budget due out next week would be the first to look beyond 13 years of conflict, shifting away from long-term ground wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.
He cautioned, however, that the country needed to be clear-eyed about the risks posed by lower budget levels, which would challenge the Pentagon to field a smaller yet well-trained force that could cope with any adversary, but might not be able to respond simultaneously to multiple conflicts.
“We … face the risk of uncertainty in a dynamic and increasingly dangerous security environment,” Hagel said. “Budget reductions inevitably reduce the military’s margin of error in dealing with these risks, as other powers are continuing to modernize their weapons portfolios.”
The cuts come as the Pentagon is attempting to absorb nearly a trillion dollars in reductions to projected spending over a decade. A two-year bipartisan budget deal in December eased some of the pressure on the department, but still cut its planned spending by $31 billion in 2014 and another $45 billion in 2015.
The Pentagon’s budget for the 2015 fiscal year beginning in October is an estimated $496 billion, about the same amount as the current fiscal year. Beginning in 2016, the department’s budget is slated to assume even larger spending cuts, an event Hagel said could jeopardize national security.
Defense analysts said the budget priorities sketched out by Hagel would begin to move the Pentagon in the right direction on issues like military compensation reform and eliminating waste but could have difficulty winning support from lawmakers facing mid-term elections to Congress.
“Congress always modifies the president’s budget request. They will again. The question is will they do it in small ways or large ways,” said Kathleen Hicks, a former senior defense official who is now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
“I think the personnel pieces are the trickiest for them,” she added, saying the challenge for the Pentagon was judging “in advance what is most likely to be accepted, particularly in a mid-term election year, and what is off the table.”
Congressional Republicans criticized the proposed cuts. Representative Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said it would be “foolish” to change military benefits before a report on the issue next year. Representative Randy Forbes, a Virginia Republican, accused the president of being “far from serious” on defense.
Hagel said the Pentagon plans to reduce the size of the Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers. The Army is currently about 520,000 soldiers and had been planning to draw down to about 490,000 in the coming year.
A reduction to 450,000 would be the Army’s smallest size since 1940, before the United States entered World War Two, when it counted a troop strength of 267,767, according to Army figures. The Army’s previous post-World War Two low was 479,426 in 1999.
“We chose further reductions in troop strength and force structure in every military service – active and reserve – in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority and to protect critical capabilities,” Hagel said.
Despite a congressional rebuff of Pentagon efforts to reform personnel costs in recent years, the defense chief announced a series of new steps to try to curb military and civilian personnel spending, which now makes up about half its budget.
Hagel said the department would seek a 1 percent raise in pay for military personnel but would slow the growth of tax-free housing allowances, reduce the annual subsidy for military commissaries and reform the TRICARE health insurance program for military family members and retirees.
Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank, said the Pentagon was heading in the “right direction with military compensation reform,” and that notions of keeping faith with troops were about more than just pay.
“Keeping faith also means ensuring our troops are the best trained and equipped in the world,” Harrison said, adding that the proposed reforms sought to balance tradeoffs between pay and benefits and training and modernization.
“The clear message is that if Congress chooses to ignore these reforms again, it will force additional cuts in training and modernization which will break faith with the troops,” he said.
Hagel also said the Pentagon would eliminate the Air Force fleet of A-10 “Warthog” close air support planes, which are much beloved by ground troops, in order to ensure continued funding of the new long-range bomber, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a new aerial refueling tanker.
In a reversal of an earlier decision, he said the Pentagon decided to retire the 50-year-old U-2 spy plane in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk system after success in reducing the operating costs of the newer plane.
The defense secretary added the Pentagon had decided to build only 32 of its new Littoral Combat Ships, down from the 52 originally planned. He said the funds would be plowed back into developing a fast, new, more lethal ship similar to a frigate.
Boston Marathon Explosion Tragedy
UPDATE: 4/15/2013 8:03PM The Boston Marathon came to a halt after two explosions were reported near the race’s finish line. Preliminary reports say at least two are dead and dozens are injured. President Obama made a statement Monday evening. BOSTON — Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston…
UPDATE: 4/15/2013 8:03PM
The Boston Marathon came to a halt after two explosions were reported near the race’s finish line. Preliminary reports say at least two are dead and dozens are injured. President Obama made a statement Monday evening.
BOSTON — Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing two people and injuring dozens in a terrifying scene of shattered glass, bloodstained pavement and severed limbs, authorities said.
CNN is reporting that at least 10 amputations have been carried out as a result of the attach, and that the bombs were likely designed to propel shrapnel. The Associated Press said that hospitals are reporting at least 134 injured, and at least 15 of them critically.
In Boston.com breaking news, the news site reports that authorities are questioning a person of interest with regard to the bombings at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
A law enforcement official has confirmed that one of the two victims killed today was eight years old, various media are reporting. The FBI and the White House are deeming this a terrorist attack, although it is unsure if it is domestic or international.
In a national address Monday evening, President Obama said, “We still do not know who did this or why. But make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
The president did not stay for reporters’ questions, and focused on the help given to the victims and their families in his speech. “The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight,” he said.
An hour after the 2:50 p.m. EDT blasts in Boston’s Copley Square marred the usually joyous end to the marathon, a fire erupted at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library three miles away, but no one was injured, police said.
In a news conference, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis confirmed the explosions and provided security measures for Boston citizens. “Don’t go any place and congregate in large crowds,” Davis said. Davis also said the incident is an ongoing event and said it is unclear if the “incendiary” occurrence at the JFK library is related to the two explosions at the finish line. Both Davis and Boston Gov. Deval Patrick expressed the necessity for tips and information from witnesses. The Boston Bombs Tipline can be reached at 800-494-TIPS, and to locate victims, the public can call 617-635-4500.
A law enforcement official said cellphone service has been shut down in the Boston area to prevent any potential remote detonations of explosives. But officials with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel said there had been no such requests.
Boston Marathon explosions were reported near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. Two high-level U.S. law enforcement sources said one or more bombs was responsible for the explosions. An intelligence official said that two more explosive devices have been found and are being dismantled near the scene.
The explosions occurred as thousands of runners finished the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, with crowds watching and cheering at the finish line, with the clock reading at just over four hours. The New York Police Department stepped up security around landmarks in Manhattan, including near prominent hotels, said Paul Browne, deputy commissioner of the NYPD.
Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Bloody spectators were being carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners. “There are a lot of people down,” said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg. A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.
EXPLOSIONS HEARD SECONDS APART
About three hours after the winners crossed the line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion could be heard a few seconds later. Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags lining the route of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. TV helicopter footage showed blood staining the pavement in the popular shopping and tourist area known as the Back Bay.
“There are people who are really, really bloody,” said Laura McLean, a runner from Toronto, who was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions. “They were pulling them into the medical tent.” Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race. “I was expecting my husband any minute,” she said. “I don’t know what this building is … it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don’t know what it was. I just ducked.”
Runners who had not finished the race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.
Mike Mitchell of Vancouver, Canada, a runner who had finished the race, said he was looking back at the finish line and saw a “massive explosion.” Smoke rose 50 feet in the air, Mitchell said. People began running and screaming after hearing the noise, Mitchell said.
“Everybody freaked out,” Mitchell said.
The Secret Service expanded its security perimeter at the White House on Monday following the explosions at the Boston Marathon. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the measure was taken “out of an abundance of caution” and noted that it was not unusual to expand or contract the security perimeters. President Barack Obama was briefed on the explosions by FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. The White House said the president also spoke with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino and pledged to provide whatever federal support was needed in responding to the incident.
Vice President Joe Biden was on a conference call with gun control activists when staffers turned on televisions in his office Monday to view coverage of the explosions. He said during the call that his prayers were with those in Boston.
The Secret Service, as part of its expanded security near the White House, shut down Pennsylvania Avenue, cordoning off the area with yellow police tape. Several Secret Service patrol cars also blocked off the entry points to the road.
The White House was not on lockdown and tourists and other onlookers were still able to be in the park across the street from the executive mansion.
As runners crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon, an explosion rocketed through the streets. According to MyFoxBoston, the explosion caused multiple injuries to 23 people, including a policeman, and killed two people. The explosion happened after more than four hours after the first of the race’s with over 25,000 runners competing.
According to multiple reports and accounts for witnesses, there were in fact two explosions though the police has reported one. The BPD released a statement saying, “There was an explosion. Police, fire and EMS are on the scene, we have no indication of how many people are injured.”
The video from SkyFox showed blood on the ground near the finish line. Witnesses reported seeing a victims with lost limbs. John Ross told the Boston Herald, “Somebody’s leg flew by my head. I gave my belt to stop the blood.”
According to multiple reports, one of the explosions possible went off inside a building near the finish line. After the explosion, ambulances and emergency officials immediately tended to victims as many ran from the wreckage.
It is unknown at the time as to the cause of both explosion.
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