Monday, 29 October 2012

New York In Lockdown With Shelters Open And Thousands Evacuated As Superstorm Hurricane Sandy Looms

New York City's transit system shut down yesterday evening and mandatory evacuation orders were issued for swaths of the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States as a potentially calamitous storm barrelled down on a region of 60
million people.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that train, subway and bus services would close at 7pm local time (11 pm GMT).
Michael Bloomberg, the city's Mayor, ordered the evacuation of low-lying areas, including parts of Manhattan.
Up to 375,000 people may have to leave their homes. Schools will be also shut. "This is a serious and dangerous storm," Mr Bloomberg said.
Across a dozen states, including several that are pivotal in the presidential race, emergency measures are in place for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, including
mobilising the National Guard.
"The time for preparing and talking is about over," Craig Fugate, head of Fema, the federal disaster- management agency, said after a conference call with President Barack Obama, who was aboard Air Force One while on the campaign trail, and other officials. "People need to be acting now."
US stock and options markets will be closed on today, and possibly Tuesday, as regulators, exchanges and brokers worried about the integrity of markets in the face of Hurricane Sandy.
Market participants and regulators decided to shut the market because the storm will make it difficult to ensure the safety of employees, major exchanges said.
New Yorkers were waking up to the risks last night, after appearing largely unperturbed earlier on Sunday. As the evening approached, supermarkets around downtown Manhattan were jam-packed with residents stocking up on bottled water and other essentials.
Meanwhile, scores of restaurants and shops around island's West Village neighborhood closed early, ahead of the suspension of the transit system. There were also reports of long queues outside
supermarkets around Brooklyn.
Mr Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of the city's Zone A, encompassing parts of the southern Manhattan coastline, areas along the East River in Brooklyn, Hamilton Beach, the Rockaways to the south-east, and other exposed regions.
In Washington, authorities urged people to bring Halloween decorations indoors, warning that even pumpkins could be picked up by the winds and turned into flying cannonballs. This storm is a combination of a hurricane, a traditional nor'easter and a blast of Arctic air from Canada, plus a full moon to magnify tidal surges.
Normally hurricanes move off into the Atlantic as they head north. This time Sandy is being forced by a high-pressure zone to head inland, where it will fuse with a cold front bearing down from Canada and possibly intensify.
The storm – which has already killed 66 people as it cut a path across the Caribbean – is forecast to make landfall somewhere along the New Jersey and Delaware coast tomorrow night. But precisely where is almost immaterial, given Sandy's enormous size. Although it will probably strike only as a Category One hurricane, with winds of 80mph, tropical-storm- force winds of 35mph or more stretch hundreds of miles from the
centre, meaning that everywhere from North Carolina to New England will be affected.
Forecasters predict from four to 10in of rain and potentially destructive coastal-storm surges of 4ft to 8ft, threatening widespread flooding in low-lying parts of cities like Baltimore and Washington DC. In the mountains of West Virginia, up to 2ft of snow could fall, smashing early season records.
The storm is affecting the presidential campaign. Mr Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney, changed their schedules, cancelling stops in the swing state of Virginia and switching to Florida and Ohio, two other battleground states.
Sandy's aftermath, in terms of flooding and protracted power cuts, could last until election day on 6 November. Four of the eight most hotly contested swing states are in the storm's sight: Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire and even
parts of Ohio.


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