Sandy disrupts voting across northeast
The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy created chaos and long lines at voting stations in the US Northeast yesterday while officials braced for a new storm due to batter the region later today.
The former hurricane that walloped New York and New Jersey eight days ago continued to create misery for the thousands who lost their homes and 900,000 households and businesses that remained without power.
Voters casting ballots for the US president endured confusion at makeshift polling stations. In New York City's Rockaways, a badly damaged barrier island community facing the Atlantic, people whose homes were damaged or destroyed or lacked power went to vote in a tent.
"This is OK," said voter Alex Valger, comparing the polling place to near-freezing temperatures at home. "You ever try to sleep in a house where there is no heating control and the temperature outside is 34 (Fahrenheit)?"
In Brooklyn's Coney Island neighborhood, still far from recovered from Sandy's onslaught, voting had to be relocated from one school to another that lacked handicap access.
At least two voters had to be carried up the 17 steps, said Sally Stein, the polling place coordinator. Election board officials also made them relocate to another room halfway through the day because they considered the first room a fire hazard.
"I'm very disgusted today, very disgusted," Ms Stein said.
Still crawling out the devastation of Sandy, the region braced for a smaller but powerful storm, a nor'easter due to bring 95kmh winds and a mix of rain and snow today and tomorrw. Temperatures could dip toward freezing or below.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered all city parks and beaches closed at noon today for at least 24 hours.
"We just don't need to send our first responders into the ocean to save someone who is being foolish," Mr Bloomberg said.
On the devastated Jersey Shore, a summer tourist haven where Sandy's storm surge swallowed whole neighborhoods and pushed entire homes across the street, the town of Brick issued a mandatory evacuation order for waterfront neighborhoods.
Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean before it moved north, combined with a strong North Atlantic system, and roared ashore on the New Jersey coast on October 29th as a rare hybrid superstorm.
It killed at least 114 in the United States and Canada and knocked out power to millions of people while swamping seaside towns and inundating New York City's streets and subway tunnels.
The death toll rose when a Long Island man was killed on Tuesday morning when a storm-damaged tree he was cutting down fell and hit him in the head, Suffolk County police said.
While president Barack Obama was expected to win New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the states most affected by Sandy, the storm could spotlight the arcane Electoral College system that decides the presidency.
One possibility was that low voter turnout in storm-ravaged states could allow Republican challenger Mitt Romney to win the popular vote even if Mr Obama wins the state-by-state Electoral College race, securing a second term.