Americans told to 'prepare for worst' with arrival of 'monster storm'
Some 60 million people in the US will be affected by Hurricane Sandy, writes LARA MARLOWEin Washington
HURRICANE SANDY hurtled towards the mid-Atlantic seaboard yesterday, flailing 90mph winds and pushing an 11ft surge of water towards New York, New Jersey and Long Island Sound.
National Hurricane Centre director Richard Knabb told reporters that Sandy would pour a foot of water on to coastal and inland areas, and deposit up to two feet of snow on the Appalachian mountains in West Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Some 60 million people in the most densely populated part of the US will be affected by Sandy, which was expected to make landfall in New Jersey yesterday evening, before continuing its rampage through seven states today.
“It’s going to be a long-duration event,” said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).
“We are rapidly moving teams, commodities, bottled water and meals to the area,” Fugate continued.
Fema is co-ordinating with the army corps of engineers and is bringing in 400 large electrical generators, capable of running hospitals and water-treatment plants.
Politicians seemed to compete for the most dire predictions. “This is the most catastrophic event that we have faced and been able to plan for in any of our lifetimes,” said Connecticut governor Dan Malloy.
Martin O’Malley, the governor of Maryland, called Sandy a “killer storm that will likely take more lives as she makes landfall”.
New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington and other eastern cities were like windswept, rain-lashed ghost towns yesterday. Winds from the storm are expected to raise 25ft waves on the Great Lakes.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered some 370,000 people to evacuate from low-lying areas on Sunday. The New York stock exchange closed floor trading due to weather yesterday, for the first time in 27 years. Public transport throughout the region shut down overnight from Sunday to yesterday. None is expected to resume before tomorrow at the earliest. The federal government and schools remained closed. Thousands of flights were cancelled.
As some residents of coastal areas refused to be evacuated, and daredevil surfers converged on his state’s beaches, New Jersey governor Chris Christie said: “When the storm comes, if it’s as bad as they’re predicting it will be, you’ll wish you weren’t as cynical. I’m not trying to be alarmist here. We need to prepare for the worst. I don’t want to see lives lost unnecessarily.”
The storm has virtually frozen the tied presidential race, with US president Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney both cancelling campaign appearances yesterday and today. Romney assumed yet another new persona as a purveyor of disaster relief, asking supporters to donate tinned food and other supplies to his “victory offices” in Virginia and Ohio for distribution to those affected by the storm.