NEW YORK (AP) – Here is a look at how the behemoth storm Sandy affected the nation’s largest city and its suburbs. A day after the storm hit, New Yorkers were coping with flooding in some areas, digging out from the mucky leftovers of receding waters in others and bracing for days without power.
With power out to more than 750,000 New Yorkers, much of the nation’s financial capital was dark Tuesday. Some narrow streets in the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan were flooded, as were some subway stations.
The New York Stock Exchange was closed for the second day but planned to reopen Wednesday.
Five cars piled on top of each other floated in a flooded loading dock in the Financial District. People stopped to gawk and take pictures. The streets were littered with debris, uprooted trees and glass from broken windows. The storm had shattered the 8-foot-tall panes of glass of one building.
At a darkened luxury high-rise building called the William Beaver House, resident manager John Sarich was sending porters with flashlights up and down the 47 flights of stairs to check on residents. He said most of the residents had stayed put despite calls to evacuate lower Manhattan. One pregnant woman in the building started having contractions Monday night. Sarich said that before the power went out, he nervously researched on the Internet how to deliver a baby.
“I said, `Oh, boy, I’m in trouble,'” Sarich recalled.
The woman, however, found a cab to take her to a hospital.
BREEZY POINT BLAZE:
A huge fire destroyed 80 to 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood on Tuesday, injuring three people and forcing firefighters to undertake daring rescues. More than 190 firefighters contained the blaze but were still putting out some pockets of fire more than nine hours after it erupted.
As daylight broke, neighbors walked around aimlessly through their smoke-filled neighborhood, which sits on the Rockaway peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Electrical wires dangled within feet of the street.
Officials said the fire was reported around 11 p.m. Monday in an area flooded by the superstorm. Video footage of the scene showed a swath of tightly packed homes engulfed in orange flames as firefighters hauled hoses while sloshing in ankle-high water. Many homes appeared flattened by the wind-whipped flames.
Allison Miller stood on what was left of the buckled boardwalk in tears. She said two family beach homes were destroyed by the fire as well.
“My house is gone,” she said.
John Frawley said he, too, made a mistake by staying behind.
“I stayed up all night,” he said. “The screams. The fire. It was horrifying.”
THE DANGLING CRANE:
A strong gust of wind during superstorm Sandy likely was a major factor in damaging a giant construction crane at a luxury Manhattan high-rise, city officials said Tuesday. The rig’s arm dangled precariously and forced evacuations in the thick of the storm.
Department of Buildings chief spokesman Tony Sclafani said the investigation into what happened is just starting but engineers believe wind gusts estimated at 80 to 100 mph played a big role. Investigators also will look at how the crane was positioned and other issues.
Engineers climbed up the 74-story building in the midst of the storm to inspect the crane. The city says officials have concluded the hanging arm is stable for now.
Some neighboring buildings have been evacuated, including a hotel with 900 guests.
The morning after the storm, Times Square and the rest of midtown Manhattan was a ghost town.
But by noontime, traffic was back and shopkeepers swept away debris and trash on sidewalks. Most shopkeepers lost at least a day’s worth of income. But they were making up for it fast, serving tourists kept captive by the weather who poured out of nearby hotels.
Dozens of tourists filled the streets. They couldn’t leave the city, so they went on shopping sprees.
“We spent Monday in our hotel room, watching TV and eating, watching TV and eating, and it was getting very hot,” said Petter Rolla, a 19-year-old student from Gothenburg, Sweden, traveling with his parents, sister and a friend. “We couldn’t wait to get out today.”
Rolla’s family bought seven pairs of shoes at the Shoe Parlor. They were waiting to hear whether they’re confirmed for a Thursday flight home.
The shoe store had a strategy for not losing money: Put up employees in a hotel and stay open Monday.
“It seems like Christmas shopping,” said Jordan Rogowsky, who co-owns the family store, which was so packed on Tuesday that people had a hard time walking through.
The famed wooden boardwalk on Coney Island in Brooklyn flooded, but the water had started receded by Tuesday morning.
The seaside aquarium had been submerged under 14 feet of water. Officials were surveying the damage. The historic Cyclone wooden rollercoaster was still standing, as was the Ferris wheel.
The homes didn’t fare as well. One gated community at the tip of the island, called Seagate, was devastated, with some houses flattened.
After the floodwaters receded, Carlo Muraco grimly assessed the damage to the arcade business he has owned for 25 years about a block from Coney Island’s boardwalk. Opening up his machines to retrieve tokens, the 48-year-old lifelong Coney Island resident estimated the damage would cost him $200,000.
“I got wrecked, and I don’t have insurance,” he said. “Most of this stuff is waterlogged. I never expected this.”
At least nine people were arrested for stealing from stores in the area, and police were investigating.
MANHATTAN IN THE DARK
In one Manhattan neighborhood called Chelsea, the streetlights were out and the power was cut, but loads of people were on the streets Tuesday, strolling around to blow off steam and hunt for information.
With no TV or Internet, they felt cut off.
Moms Tania Farbera and Marnee Spiere were out with their children, struggling across a street with no stoplights. At home, they had searched for an old radio they could use to tune in for any information. They found an old boom box.
“We had to go old school,” Spiere said.
Miguel Acevedo, 52, a tenant association president of a building, stood outside grumbling with resident Sam Rosediether, 58, a carpenter.
“We don’t have no water, no electricity and no information coming from anyone,” said Acevedo, whose residents keep asking him questions he has no idea how to answer.
Rosedietcher said they couldn’t find out any information about their neighborhood on the radio.
“You turn on the radio, and you hear about Long Island, you hear about Staten Island, but nothing about Chelsea,” he said. “We’re clueless.”
One resident walked by and shouted, “Miguel, put my lights back on!”
Acevedo just laughed.
Around Nassau County, the closer of two Long Island counties to New York City, lines formed at the few gas stations that had power and were open.
Trees were across side streets, and power lines were down everywhere. Intersections were hazardous because traffic lights were out.
On the south shore of Long Island, residents of the town of Mastic Beach waded through flooded streets to assess the ruins of their homes.
Donna Vollaro, 53, covered her face with her hands and sobbed as she walked through the wreckage of her ranch home, flooded with several feet of water.
The water had receded by early Tuesday afternoon, but the house was filled with mud, and everything inside it was destroyed.
“My bed was floating around in three feet of water,” she said. “The floors are buckled. The walls are caved in. Everything I own is gone.”
Vollaro, who is disabled and unemployed, has no home owner’s insurance and said she recently spent her savings on renovating the home. Inside, the refrigerator lay on its side, the couch was soaked with floodwater and the boiler was destroyed.
“Now I have nowhere to go,” she said. “Just the clothes on my back. That’s what I have.”
Across Long Island, nearly 1 million customers were without power. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was directing the chairman of the state Public Service Commission to monitor the Long Island Power Authority’s effort to restore power.
Associated Press writers Colleen Long, Jennifer Peltz, Verena Dobnik, Tom Hays, Alexandra Olson, Ralph Russo and David B. Caruso in New York and Frank Eltman and Meghan Barr on Long Island contributed to this report.
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