A day after Sandy, New Yorkers find a changed city - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

A day after Sandy, New Yorkers find a changed city

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© Water reaches the street level of the Battery Park Underpass, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York. © Water reaches the street level of the Battery Park Underpass, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York.
© A fire burns at least two dozen homes in a flooded neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. A fire department spokesman says more than 190 firefighters are at the blaze in the Breezy Point section. © A fire burns at least two dozen homes in a flooded neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. A fire department spokesman says more than 190 firefighters are at the blaze in the Breezy Point section.
© Streets are flooded under the Manhattan Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets. © Streets are flooded under the Manhattan Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets.

NEW YORK (AP) — The massive storm that pummeled the East killed 10 people in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday, but he offered no firm timeline on when power would be restored to hundreds of thousands of people or when the city's flooded subway system would be running again.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," he said.

Scenes of the damage from the overnight havoc were everywhere after a wall of seawater and high winds slammed the city, destroying buildings and flooding tunnels. Between 80 and 100 flooded homes in Queens caught fire and were destroyed. A hospital removed patients on stretchers and 20 babies from neonatal intensive care, some on respirators operating on battery power.

Sidewalks, streets and subways usually bustling with crowds and traffic jams were largely empty. And high above midtown, the broken boom of a crane 

NEW YORK (AP) — Stripped of its bustle and mostly cut off from the world, New York was left wondering Tuesday when its particular way of life — carried by subway, lit by skyline and powered by 24-hour deli — would return.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the power company said it could be the weekend before the lights come on for hundreds of thousands of people plunged into darkness by what was once Hurricane Sandy.

Bloomberg said it could also be four or five days before the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, is running again. All 10 of the tunnels that carry New Yorkers under the East River were flooded.

Sandy killed 18 people in New York City, the mayor said. The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment. A 23-year-old woman died after stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," Bloomberg said.

For the 8 million people who live here, the city was a different place one day after the storm.

In normal times, rituals bring a sense of order to the chaos of life in the nation's largest city: Stop at Starbucks on the morning walk with the dog, drop the kids off at P.S. 39, grab a bagel.

On Tuesday, those rituals were suspended, with little indication when they would come back. Schools were shut for a second day and were closed Wednesday, too.

Coffee shops, normally open as close as a block apart, were closed in some neighborhoods. New York found itself less caffeinated and curiously isolated from the world, although by afternoon it had begun to struggle back to life.

Some bridges into the city reopened at midday, but the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, and the Holland Tunnel, between New York and New Jersey, remained closed. And service on the three commuter railroads that run between the city and its suburbs was still suspended.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said bus service would be restored at 5 p.m. EDT, on a limited schedule but free. He said he hoped there would be full service on Wednesday, also free.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day, the first time that has happened because of weather since the 19th century, but said it would reopen on Wednesday.

Swaths of the city were not so lucky. Consolidated Edison, the power company, said it would be four days before the last of the 337,000 customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn who lost power have electricity again.

For the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester County, with 442,000 outages, it could take a week, Con Ed said. Floodwater led to explosions that disabled a power substation on Monday night, contributing to the outages.

New Yorkers were left without power to charge their iPods and Kindles and Nooks for the subway. Not that there was a subway. People clustered around electrical outlets at a Duane Reade drugstore to power up their phones.

At a small market called Hudson Gourmet, in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, cashiers made change by candlelight and shoppers used flashlights to scour the shelves.

Lee Leshen used the light from his phone to make his selections — three boxes of linguine and a can of tomatoes. His power was out, but the gas in his stove worked, so he could cook. He said he almost never cooks but is learning.

John Tricoli, his wife, Christine, and their 6-year-old twins spent Monday night holed up in their 11th-floor apartment in one of several lower Manhattan office buildings that were converted to condos in the 2000s and have drawn young families. Once the power went off at 7 p.m., there was a major challenge — no TV.

By candlelight, "we colored, we read, we played games — old school," Christine Tricoli said as the family emerged to go on a walk on Tuesday that started with a trek down 11 flights of stairs.

"There was even talking," she said.

The city modified its taxi rules and encouraged drivers to pick up more than one passenger at a time, putting New Yorkers in the otherwise unthinkable position of having to share a yellow cab with a stranger.

Livery cabs and black sedans, normally allowed to pick up passengers only by arrangement, were allowed to stop for people hailing rides on the street.

The landscape of the city changed in a matter of hours.

A fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens. Firefighters said the water was chest-high on the street and they had to use a boat to make rescues.

In Brooklyn, Faye Schwartz surveyed the damage in her Brooklyn neighborhood, where cars were strewn like leaves, planters were deposited in intersections and green Dumpsters were tossed on their sides.

"Oh, Jesus. Oh, no," she said.

The chief line of demarcation Tuesday ran through Manhattan's Chelsea section. Above 25th Street, delis did business and traffic lights worked. Below 25th Street, nothing.

For some New Yorkers, the aftermath of the storm stirred memories of the blackout of August 2003, when a cascading power failure in the Northeast left the city without power for parts of two days. This time, as then, there was no sign of looting or widespread crime. Nine people in all were arrested on charges they stole from a gas station, an electronics store and a clothing store in Queens.

But the 2003 blackout was a communal experience, with strangers lounging on stoops and bars blaring music into darkened neighborhoods. This time, people had to stay indoors and wait.

At a darkened luxury high-rise building in lower Manhattan, resident manager John Sarich was sending porters with flashlights up and down 47 flights of stairs to check on people who live there.

He said most people stayed put despite calls to evacuate. One pregnant woman started having contractions, and Sarich said that before the power went out, he nervously researched online how to deliver a baby.

"I said, 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble,'" Sarich said. The woman managed to find a cab to take her to a hospital.

Bloomberg told reporters that the storm deaths were tragic but said the city pulled through better than some people expected, considering the magnitude of the storm.

The mayor said: "We will get through the days ahead by doing what we always do in tough times — by standing together, shoulder to shoulder, ready to help a neighbor, comfort a stranger and get the city we love back on its feet."

___

Associated Press writers Meghan Barr, Verena Dobnik, Frank Eltman, Tom Hays, Larry Neumeister, Karen Matthews, Alexandra Olson, Jennifer Peltz, Hal Ritter and Ralph Russo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

continued to dangle precariously over a neighborhood.

"Oh, Jesus. Oh, no," said Faye Schwartz, 65, Tuesday morning as she surveyed the damage in her Brooklyn neighborhood, where cars were strewn like leaves, planters were deposited in intersections and green Dumpsters were tossed on their sides.

The storm was once Hurricane Sandy but combined with two wintry systems to become a huge hybrid storm whose center smashed ashore late Monday in New Jersey. New York City was perfectly positioned to absorb the worst of its storm surge — a record 13 feet.

The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment, the mayor said. Another person died by stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire, Bloomberg said. He didn't give immediate details on all the dead, where they were located, and when they died.

At a darkened luxury high-rise building called the William Beaver House in Lower Manhattan, resident manager John Sarich was sending up porters with flashlights up and down the 47 flights of stairs to check on residents.

He said most people stayed put despite calls to evacuate. One pregnant woman in the building started having contractions, and Sarich said that before the power went out, he nervously researched how to deliver a baby on the Internet.

"I said, 'Oh boy, I'm in trouble,'" Sarich said. The woman managed to find a cab to take her to a hospital.

Uptown in Chelsea, the city's thriving gallery district was under waist-high water the night before.

Reggie Thomas, a maintenance supervisor at a prison located within striking distance of the overflowing Hudson River, emerged from an overnight shift there, a toothbrush in his front pocket, to find his 2011 Honda with its windows down and a foot of water inside. The windows automatically go down when the car is submerged to free drivers. It left his car with a foot of water inside, and unable to start.

"It's totaled," Thomas said, with a shrug. "You would have needed a boat last night."

The city's transit system suffered unprecedented damage, from the underground subway tunnels to commuter rails to bus garages, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Tuesday.

"We have no idea how long it's going to take," spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said.

All 10 subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn were flooded during the storm, as the saltwater surge inundated signals, switches and third rails and covered tracks with sludge, she said.

The entire system wasn't flooded and the authority was already pumping water Tuesday. Workers ultimately will have to walk all the hundreds of miles of track to inspect it, she said, and it wasn't clear how long that would take. Trains had been moved to safety before the storm.

The 108-year-old subway system "has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement.

Bloomberg said there was just no telling when power and transit would be back, but estimated some bus service would be restored by Tuesday afternoon.

"Clearly the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous," he said.

Water lapped over the seawall in Battery Park City, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads. Rescue workers floated bright orange rafts down flooded downtown streets, while police officers rolled slowly down the street with loudspeakers telling people to go home.

In Queens, nearly 200 firefighters tried to contain an enormous blaze that consumed more than 80 homes in the Breezy Point neighborhood. They had to use a boat to make rescues and climbed an awning to reach about 25 trapped people, fire officials said.

Officials weren't immediately able to pin down the cause of the blaze, and Bloomberg said no deaths had been reported there.

On Staten Island, a tanker ship wound up beached on the shore.

Water surged into two major commuter tunnels — the Brooklyn Battery and the Queens Midtown. Water coursed into one of the Long Island Rail Road's East River tunnels, the railroad's West Side yards had to be evacuated. At least 40 LIRR stations had no power Tuesday.

The rains and howling winds left a crane hanging off a luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan, causing the evacuation of hundreds from a posh hotel and other buildings. Inspectors were climbing 74 flights of stairs to examine the crane hanging from the $1.5 billion building.

After a backup generator failed, New York University's Tisch Hospital began evacuating more than 200 patients to other facilities, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care, some of them on respirators operating on battery power.

In Schwartz's Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, residents who ignored a mandatory evacuation order awoke to debris-strewn streets and a continued blackout. About 2 inches of mucky dirt and leaves covered streets crisscrossed by downed power lines after water sloshed 12 blocks inland.

The doors of the Fairway grocery store were blown out. Several cars left in the parking lot were shifted by flood waters overnight and were left crammed door to door.

Schwartz and her husband rode out the storm on the third floor of the residences above the Fairway and said white-capped flood waters reached at least 3 feet around the building.

"It was scary how fast the water came up," she said.

The facade of a four-story Manhattan building in the Chelsea neighborhood crumbled and collapsed suddenly, leaving the lights, couches, cabinets and desks inside visible from the street. No one was hurt, although some of the falling debris hit a car.

The city shut all three of its airports, its subways, schools, stock exchanges, Broadway theaters and closed several bridges and tunnels Monday as the weather worsened. By evening, the storm surge was threatening Manhattan's southern tip and utilities deliberately darkened part of the borough to avoid storm damage.

It could be several days to a week before all residents who lost power during the storm get their lights back, officials said.

On Tuesday, the New York Stock Exchange was to be closed again — the first time it's been closed for two consecutive days due to weather since 1888, when a blizzard struck the city.

At least 1 million customers lost power in New York City, the northern suburbs and coastal Long Island, where floodwaters swamped cars, downed trees and put neighborhoods under water.

On coastal Long Island, floodwaters swamped cars, downed trees and put neighborhoods under water as beachfronts and fishing villages bore the brunt of the storm. A police car was lost rescuing 14 people from the popular resort Fire Island.

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Tom Hays, Karen Matthews and Larry Neumeister in New York, and Frank Eltman on Long Island.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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