Hurricane Sandy's double-barreled onslaught of high winds and record-high storm surge flooding wreaked havoc in lower Manhattan and the boroughs last night. Flooding on the Jersey shore and on the south shore of Long Island left behind a monumental task of rescue, recovery, and reconstruction.
The New York Times and the New York Daily News posted regular storm updates as Manhattan flooded, then went dark. Early in the evening, the Daily News newsroom lost power as their building's lower floor lobby flooded three feet deep. Reporters continued working by the glow of computer monitors, until those went dead also, then carried on by using cell phones to communicate with website producers in central Pennsylvania.
In sporadic updates, the Daily News reported events such as the explosion at a Con Ed substation in midtown Manhattan that plunged Lower Manhattan into darkness. A Twitter feed by New York State emergency manager Howard Glaser also cross-posted at the Daily News, showed a flashlight-toting Governor Andrew Cuomo inspecting the construction site at Ground Zero, where surge waters were spilling into the excavation (Click for AP photo at the Daily News). By mid-day, the paper's continuing page had grown to a ten-page series of photos and brief reports, chronicling the storm's damage and the struggles of New Yorkers to respond ("Tracking Hurricane Sandy Live").
A fire in Queens consumed dozens of houses as firefighters struggled with floodwaters and winds ("FDNY says massive fire burning in Breezy Point section of Queens has destroyed 50 homes; 198 firefighters are battling the blaze").
Travel into and out of New York will be hampered for an unknown time, CNNMoney reported ("Transit 'disaster' in NYC"). "All seven subway tunnels under the East River are flooded," the network reported. "The Metro-North Railroad, which carried commuters to suburbs north of Manhattan, is without power. Service on PATH trains, which ferry commuters from New Jersey under the Hudson River, has been suspended." Bridges and tunnels were hit hard too, said CNNMoney: "The Holland Tunnel is closed. The George Washington Bridge, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing are out of commission. The Lincoln Tunnel, another major artery, is open."
Farther west, Newsday reported on efforts by emergency first responders to rescue dozens of people on the barrier island of Fire Island, where some residents had chosen to stay in place despite evacuation orders, but changed their minds after it was too late ("Search of inundated Fire Island planned," by Ellen Yan).
"About 60 out of some 250 year-round residents there had elected to reject the 'last shot' chance at evacuation Monday at 2 p.m., but once high tide hit, many changed their minds, said Joe Williams, Suffolk commissioner of fire and rescue," Newsday reported. "It was impossible to reach them by land, ocean and air Monday night, he said. At least 17 people bunkered down at the Woodhull School in Ocean Beach, but the fate of others was not known after phone contact was lost with most of them, he said. Williams said one resident told him seven homes on Davis Park had washed away."
As the storm moved inland, wind and rains diminished. Officials in Vermont, where last year's Tropical Storm Irene did crippling damage, were prepared and confident, The New York Times reported ("Storm Is Expected to Be Less Powerful, and Less Drenching, as It Moves Inland," by John Schwartz and Nina Bernstein). "This is not Irene revisited," Shumlin told the Times in a telephone interview Monday. "We've been preparing for this for the last five days, and we're ready to rock."
For a slide-show of full-screen images from the storm, check out The Atlantic's "In Focus" photo blog post ("Hurricane Sandy: After Landfall"), curated by Alan Taylor."