At least 32 killed as Sandy sweeps US northeast
The storm was expected to leave up to 90cm of snow in the Appalachians, which saw blizzard conditions yesterday, and 30cm of water on average over the entire region.
“The cyclone is centred over western Pennsylvania now,” National Hurricane Centre director Rick Knabb said yesterday afternoon. “It is still a very large system. There are still strong winds from the south on the mid-Atlantic and New England coastlines.”
Dr Knabb said he expected 60cm to 1.2m of additional flooding at high tide yesterday, and that the US would not be completely rid of Sandy until well into today.
HURRICANE CRISIS MANAGEMENT WHO'S CALLING THE SHOTS?
WHO’S IN CHARGE?
President Barack Obama is heading the relief effort from the White House, holding daily video-teleconferences with the relevant cabinet ministers, military officers and heads of government agencies. He spoke with governors and mayors from affected areas yesterday and has told them to call him if they encounter bureaucracy or delays.
George W Bush appointed a crony to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and paid a heavy price for it when FEMA bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina. Obama chose a non-partisan former head of emergency services in Florida, Chris Fugate, as FEMA administrator. The agency already has more than 1,000 officials on the ground with supplies, food, medicine and emergency generators. It is coordinating between local, state and federal officials and the White House.
WHO CAN CALL A STATE OF EMERGENCY?
President Obama has made two kinds of declarations since Sandy struck the US. The emergency declarations he signed for Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia mostly before the storm made landfall, allow these states to receive direct federal assistance, for example food, water and generators. Mr Obama yesterday declared major disasters in eight counties of New Jersey and seven counties of New York. These declarations enable FEMA to set up individual assistance programmes, including grants for temporary housing, home repairs and low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.
WHO CAN CALL OUT THE NATIONAL GUARD?
The National Guard, the oldest component of the US armed forces, dating back to the 17th century, is a reserve military force comprised of soldiers and airmen who hold full-time civilian jobs. Some 45,000 are available to help with disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Although the president can mobilise them for federal duty in time of war or national emergency, in this case they are being activated by state governors. Because their states were declared major disasters, the governors of New Jersey and New York can seek reimbursement for National Guard duties from the federal government.