Superstorm Sandy Causes 29 Deaths, Immense Destruction in North East, USA

October 30th, 2012

CNN: Editor’s Note: Superstorm Sandy smashed ashore last night, triggering floods, fires and devastation. Twenty-nine people are known to have died in the U.S. and one in Canada, adding to the storm’s earlier toll of 67. Millions are without power. Floods have hit homes and the New York subway system.

The destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy mounted Tuesday morning as electrical fires and record power outages added to the misery of devastating flooding in the Northeast.

More than 7.5 million customers shivered without electricity in 15 states and the District of Columbia in Sandy’s chilly wake.

Sandy also claimed at least 26 lives across the United States, bringing the total number of deaths to at least 94 after the storm wreaked havoc in the Caribbean.

The storm sent trees crashing down and left neighborhood streets looking like rivers. Homes washed off their foundations and onto a New Jersey state highway. Floodwaters rushed into New York’s subway tunnels.

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, chief of staff for the Bergen County executive.

Hundreds of people had been rescued Tuesday morning, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.

“We’ll have to rescue hundreds more,” he said.

Sandy’s impact: State by state

Meanwhile, the stench of smoke blew 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 80 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 carried sick newborn babies down nine flights of stairs, manually pumping air into the lungs of those on respirators.

NYU hospital evacuates patients

Atlantic City, New Jersey, became an extension of the Atlantic Ocean. Seaweed and ocean debris swirled in the knee-deep water covering downtown streets. Floodwaters ripped up part of the city’s fabled boardwalk.

Like many New Jersey residents, Montgomery Dahm stared in awe at the water that deluged Atlantic City

“I’ve been down here for about 16 years, and it’s shocking what I’m looking at now. It’s unbelievable,” he said. “I mean, there’s cars that are just completely underwater in some of the places I would never believe that there would be water.”

The normally loquacious New Jersey governor struggled to find the words Tuesday morning to describe the images of devastation captured by helicopters surveying the damage along the Jersey Shore.

The roller coaster and log plume from a popular amusement park were in the ocean, Christie said, and homes were in the middle of Route 35.

“We’re talking months to recover from this,” he said.

Superstorm Sandy’s wrath

Along the East Coast, residents reported images they’d never seen before.

“We just looked out the window, and there’s this river flowing through the middle of Manhattan,” said Earl Bateman, a stockbroker who has lived in New York for 30 years.

[Update 1:19 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tweets:

We have no reports of storm-related fatalities at any NYC hospitals, despite loss of power at several

[Update 1:05 p.m.] The U.S. death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 29, with another death reported in Pennsylvania and two in Virginia.

The toll includes 15 in New York; three in New Jersey; three in Pennsylvania; two in Maryland; two in Connecticut; two in Virginia, one in West Virginia, and one on the HMS Bounty.

One person was killed in Canada, and 67 were killed in the Caribbean, including 51 in Haiti.  The overall death toll stands at 97.

[Update 12:56 p.m.] In the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens, New York, where the storm has damaged many houses and fire is believed to have destroyed 80 homes, T.J. Gilmartin told CNN that a three-block area is a place of “total destruction.”

“There is nothing in this one cluster of homes,” Gilmartin said. “And every house along the side that’s still up is damaged. Every one, they’re off their foundations. … Even the sidewalk is ripped up.”

He was checking the area for his brother, who lives in the area but isn’t there today.

“I walked up, took a few pictures, and I’m going to e-mail them to my brother,” he said.

[Update 12:53 p.m.] The New York Stock Exchange says it will reopen Wednesday morning after being closed for two days due to superstorm Sandy.

[Update 12:30 p.m.] About 60 people are stranded on New York’s Fire Island with contaminated water and no electricity after they did not obey mandatory evacuation orders over the weekend, officials say.

“We were able on Monday morning to rescue about 14 people” from the island, said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, director of communications for Suffolk County.

Now, officials are working to make sure those left on the island are safe.  The Coast Guard is flying over the area.

Long Island Power Authority had “de-energized” the area after the mandatory evacuation, Baird-Streeter said.

[Update 12:20 p.m.] New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it will resume limited bus service today at 5 p.m.  Fares will be waived for the time being, the MTA said on Twitter.

[Update 12:16 p.m. ET] About 300 blood drives across the country had to be canceled because of the superstorm, leaving a shortfall of almost 9,000 units, the Red Cross says.

One way to help people: donate blood, the organization tweeted.

For other ways to help, visit

[Update 12:07 p.m. ET] Want to help New Yorkers? The mayor’s office says this is one way to do it.

We are so touched by offers to help with recovery — you’ve overwhelmed our @NYCService site! Go here instead:

And Mayor Bloomberg says help may be needed for some time to come.

This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst has ever experienced. The impacts will be felt for some time:

[Update 12:03 p.m. ET] An overall breakdown of fatalities from Sandy as of noon Tuesday:
Total deaths: 94
In the U.S.: 26
– 15 in New York
– 2 in Maryland
– 2 in Connecticut
– 3 in New Jersey
– 2 in Pennsylvania
– 1 West Virginia
– 1 HMS Bounty replica deckhand who was found unresponsive and later declared dead at hospital
Outside the U.S.:
– 1 in Canada.
Earlier: 67 in the Caribbean, including 51 in Haiti.

[Update 11:58 a.m. ET] Even though the superstorm has moved inland, don’t even think of taking a boat out on the water, the U.S. Coast Guard says. Read more…