More states brace for Sandy's wrath

President Obama has signed emergency and disaster declarations for many states

NEW YORK | October 30, 2012

Sandy, which killed at least 15 people, zapped power, forced evacuations and flooded highways along the U.S. East Coast, pushed precipitation inland Tuesday.

Post-tropical Storm Cyclone Sandy, with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, was about 90 miles west of Philadelphia and about 15 miles east of York, Pa., moving west-northwest at 15 mph, the National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said in its 5 a.m. EDT advisory.

Cities from North Carolina to Maine all bore some brunt of the massive storm, which made landfall in New Jersey Monday evening. Storm surges combined with high tides created historic flooding for some areas.

Officials said 16 people are known to have died in the United States and one in Canada, adding to the storm's earlier toll of 67 in the Caribbean, CNN reported. The deaths include five in New York, two in Maryland, two in Connecticut, three in New Jersey, two in Pennsylvania, one in West Virginia and one from the HMS Bounty replica off the coast from Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The HMS Bounty, a 180-foot sailboat, is shown submerged in the Atlantic Ocean during Hurricane Sandy approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, N.C., Monday, October 29, 2012. UPI/Tim Kuklewski/Coast GuardLicense photo | Permalink

Millions of customers were without power in more than a dozen states. Schools and government offices were closed, many for a second day. The New York Stock Exchange also was dark for the second straight day, and transportation and transit were in shambles.

Hundreds of people were being evacuated early Tuesday from Moonachie, N.J., following a levee break, reported. Residents of a trailer park were on the roofs of their trailers awaiting a rescue by boat or high-water vehicles, officials said. No deaths or injuries were reported.

A backup power system failed at NYU Langone Medical Center Monday night, forcing the evacuation of all patients to nearby hospitals, The New York Times said.

Medical center officials said it began transporting all 215 patients to other facilities Monday evening and were still transporting some early Tuesday morning to facilities such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

The Manhattan skyline was dark Monday. CNN reported three feet of water flowed onto the floor of the stock exchange building, a first.

At least 50 homes burned to the ground in one neighborhood of Queens, fire officials said, though the cause of the blaze was not immediately released.

New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority said seven subway tunnels were flooded, the Metro-North Railroad lost power along some lines, the Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and sustained flooding in one tunnel, the Hugh L. Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel was flooded, and the Queens Midtown Tunnel took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water.

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said there was "no firm timeline" for service to be restored, the Times said.

Governors have declared states of emergency. President Obama has signed emergency and disaster declarations for many states, paving the way for federal assistance.

In Connecticut, CNN reported some residents trapped in their houses by floodwaters received this text message from the state's Emergency Management Office:

"If u find urself surrounded by H2O, call 4 help if u can & then get 2 highest level of home. Hang a white sheet out a street side window."

Many watches and warnings, such as high-wind warnings, flash flood and storm warnings, were in effect from the Mid-Atlantic states through New England. High winds were expected as far west as Chicago.

Sandy was expected to slog into western Pennsylvania Tuesday, then shift north into western New York Tuesday night and move into Canada Wednesday.

Storm surge combined with high tide could bring waters of 1-4 feet above normal high tide. Dangerous surf conditions were expected from Florida through New England.

Rain was expected from North Carolina northeastward to New England. Rain totals Monday ranged from slightly more than an inch in some spots to 11.62 inches in Wildwood Crest, N.J.

Further inland, Sandy could dump 2-3 feet of snow in the mountainous regions of West Virginia through Wednesday. Snowfall of 1-2 feet was expected in southwestern Virginia to the Kentucky border. A foot to 18 inches of snow could fall in mountainous areas along the North Carolina-Tennessee border and in far western Maryland.

Bowden, W.Va., reported receiving 14 inches of snow so far.

Fierce winds were forecast from northern Georgia into Canada, and extending as far west as Lake Michigan, forecasters said. Heavy rains were expected to saturate New England and parts of the Midwest.

Damage from the storm could be as much as $20 billion, catastrophe-risk modeling firm EQECAT said.

By contrast, Hurricane Irene, which slammed the region 14 months ago, caused $10 billion in damage. Insured losses from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 topped $45 billion after adjusting for inflation.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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