NEW YORK—Hurricane Sandy struck New York City Monday evening.
Hundreds of thousands lost power. Flooding happened all over the metropolitan area, including on Coney Island, along the Gowanus Canal, and in Lower Manhattan.
Schools were canceled for Tuesday after being canceled for Monday. The few vehicles on the streets were mostly police cars and taxis as subways, buses, and commuter rail remain down with no specific restart time.
Joseph Lhota, CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said if salt water comes into contact with the electrical equipment (switches and signals), it could be destructive.
“The corrosion that could come from there is significant,” Lhota said at a press conference with the mayor. “The general ability to run the system and to keep it safe is in jeopardy.”
Officials told New Yorkers to stay inside and hold tight, bracing for a storm that dampened the city with surges of rain and strengthened high tides. Total storm surges reached up to 12 feet in some areas.
“It’s just dangerous to be out on the streets when the wind is this high,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said around noon via live feed from the headquarters of the Office of Emergency Management.
If you do go out, Bloomberg said, “Keep your eyes and ears open, get your business done, and get back inside as quickly as you can.”
Bridge and tunnel closures began in the early afternoon with almost all being closed by 7:30 p.m. Flights were suspended, though airports remained open as shelters for the stranded.
Thousands of displaced New Yorkers arrived at the 76 shelters around the city, with dozens of pets in tow.
Tensions grew through the evening as conditions worsened around 6 p.m.
Storm surge water levels at 9:24 p.m. reached 13.88 feet at Battery Park, breaking a previous record-high of 10.02 feet set in 1960 by Hurricane Donna. http://ept.ms/RsTXiz
Several buildings began to partially collapse. Water levels also climbed to dangerous levels in Zone A areas, which had been ordered evacuated as early as noon Monday. Some residents stayed put.
On the west side of Midtown, water made accessing land close to the Hudson River impossible. Tenth Avenue could not be traversed at 30th Street, nor could streets just north.
Yet damage contrasted greatly between areas. In Lower Manhattan, a carousel half submerged; the World Trade Center site flooding; many areas losing power; cars overcome by water. In Midtown, tourists wander on the streets, residents surveyed the much milder impacts, and more than a handful of small businesses remained open.
“We are open 24 hours a day,” said Jimmy Ali, manager at a deli at 9th and 32nd. Two customers sat eating. Ali and his employee seemed ready to weather the storm. “We’re scared,” he said, but they would only leave “if we see the water get closer.”
One of the biggest issues, mass transit, is uncertain. Kevin Ortiz, a spokesperson with MTA, said via Twitter that they “cannot set [a] timetable without assessing what’s down there.”
Officials reiterated late Monday that people should stay inside, stay off the roads, and wait out the storm.
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