NEW YORK—Just days before Halloween, New York City braced for a late-season hurricane called Sandy, prompting the MTA to completely shut down the transit system for only the second time ever and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to order evacuations of the city’s low-lying waterfront areas.
Some heeded the warnings. Many others, lulled by the soft landing Irene made in 2011, did not. No one expected what hit on Oct. 29.
As the storm surge spilled into the city, it breached the 100-year flood plain and devastated coastal communities such as Breezy Point in the Rockaways, Staten Island, Sea Gate, Coney Island, Red Hook in Brooklyn, and South Street Seaport in Manhattan. 36 lives were lost.
Water breached a Con Edison power station in Manhattan, causing a massive explosion and leaving Lower Manhattan completely in the dark for four to six days. For a city usually teeming with life 24 hours a day it was an eerie sight. Statewide, more than 2.1 million customers were left without power. The stock market was forced to close. Damage costs were calculated to be as high as $100 billion.
Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo led the huge recovery effort, but it was local communities and volunteers that banded together for immediate assistance to each other. Food, warmth, and shelter became the only priority in the lives of hundreds who lost everything.
The Coast Guard and FEMA moved into devastated areas. The subway system began running piece by piece early Nov. Power began to be restored.
Bloomberg plans to lead the city through the first steps of the rebuilding process. In Feb. 2013 the rebuilding task force, headed by Economic Development Corporation President Seth Pinsky, will release its action plan for recovery. The plan will tackle the issues of protecting the city and updating aging infrastructure to handle the changing climate.
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