PITTSBURGH — A weakening Sandy, the hurricane turned fearsome superstorm, had killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, by Tuesday night and still wasn’t finished.
It inched inland across Pennsylvania, ready to bank toward western New York to dump more of its water and likely cause more havoc Tuesday night.
“Nature is an awful lot more powerful than we are,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assessing the damage to his city,
More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly 2 million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up underwater – as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day from weather, the first time that has happened since 1888. The shutdown of mass transit crippled a city where more than 8.3 million bus, subway and local rail trips are taken each day, and 800,000 vehicles cross bridges run by the transit agency.
Consolidated Edison said electricity in and around New York could take a week to restore.
“Everybody knew it was coming. Unfortunately, it was everything they said it was,” said Sal Novello, a construction executive who rode out the storm with his wife, Lori, in the Long Island town of Lindenhurst and ended up with 7 feet of water in the basement.
Though early predictions of river flooding in Sandy’s inland path were petering out, colder temperatures made snow the main product of Sandy’s slow march.
Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with 2 feet of snow by Tuesday afternoon, and drifts 4 feet deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
In Atlantic City, N.J., a gaping hole remained where once a stretch of boardwalk sat by the sea.
In Queens, N.Y., rubble from a fire that destroyed as many as 100 houses in an evacuated beachfront neighborhood jutted into the air at ugly angles.
In heavily flooded Hoboken, N.J., across the Hudson River from Manhattan, dozens of yellow cabs sat parked in rows, submerged in murky water to their windshields.
One of the most dramatic tales came from lower Manhattan, where a failed backup generator forced New York University’s Langone Medical Center to relocate more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care. Dozens of ambulances lined up in the rainy night and the tiny patients were gingerly moved out, some attached to battery-powered respirators as wind blew their blankets.
Atlantic City’s fabled Boardwalk lost several blocks when Sandy came through, though the majority of it remained intact even as other Jersey Shore boardwalks were dismantled.
What damage could be seen on the coastline Tuesday was, in some locations, staggering –“unthinkable,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said of what unfolded along the Jersey Shore, where houses were swept from their foundations and amusement park rides were washed into the ocean. “Beyond anything I thought I would ever see.”
In Moonachie, N.J., 10 miles north of Manhattan, water rose to 5 feet within 45 minutes and trapped residents who thought the worst had passed. Mobile-home park resident Juan Allen said water overflowed a 2-foot wall along a nearby creek, filling the area with 2 to 3 feet of water within 15 minutes.
“I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground,” he said. “I watched a tree crush a guy’s house like a wet sponge.”
In a measure of the storm’s
size, waves on southern Lake Michigan rose to a record-tying 20.3 feet. High winds spinning off Sandy’s edges clobbered the Cleveland area early Tuesday, uprooting trees, closing schools and flooding major roads along Lake Erie.
In Bridgeport, Conn., Bertha Weismann’s garage was flooded and she lost power, but she was grateful the next day.
“I feel like we are blessed,” she said. “It could have been worse.”