You are here:

Live: Hurricane Sandy leaves NYC, dangers remain

by FP Staff  Oct 30, 2012 20:58 IST

#Hurricane Sandy   #NewsTracker   #US stock markets  

8.58 pm: Hurricane Sandy leaves NYC, dangers remain

While Hurricane Sandy has officially left the New York City area, people are still advised to stay indoors as dangers still remain, said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

He said the superstorm has created havoc with 23 serious fires and has destroyed as many as 80 houses.

"Our first priority is protecting lives. Our 76 shelter homes will be open till people find places to stay," the mayor said.

He said the storm has caused extensive damage across the city that cannot be repaired overnight, but he said the administration will do its best to restore power and get the mass transit system running as soon as possible.

He said that while 911 has been working without a hitch, it should be used only for life threatening situations.

7.33 pm: Atlantic city mayor hits back at NJ gov

Atlantic City's mayor says he would love nothing better than to confront New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "mano a mano."

Speaking on NBC's Today show on Tuesday, Mayor Lorenzo Langford disputed Christie's criticism that Langford erred by allowing people to shelter on the barrier island rather than moving them inland. Langford says the governor was either misinformed or ill-advised.

The mayor says while most Atlantic City residents fled the island, some decided to stay. Langford says the city had a contingency plan in place for those who didn't heed the warning to evacuate. Langford says it's reprehensible that the governor would try to play politics out of a serious situation.

Speaking on Today, Christie said his "anger has turned to sympathy for those folks."

6.38 pm: New Jersey nuclear power plant being monitored

The Christie administration is monitoring the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant that lost part of its power and declared an “alert” due to rising water levels Monday night reports The Wall Street Journal.

Generators are powering the plant in Lacey Township to keep the fuel cool. Twenty-one alarms on the facility went out Monday night, though other warning signals were in place, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in statement Tuesday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that the plant remains in “safe condition” and federal and state inspectors are on site at the plant, which had been shut down before the storm. (Read more)

6.00 pm: Tanker washes up on New York's Staten Island

The BBC just tweeted out this image of a ship that has washed up on Staten island:

From the BBC News Twitter handle

5.46 pm: Blizzard warning for West Virginia

A blizzard warning was in effect for a large part of West Virginia as snow and high winds blew over Appalachia on the edges of superstorm Sandy.

The National Weather Service said Tuesday more than a foot of snow was reported in lower elevations of West Virginia, where most towns and roads are. High elevations in the mountains were getting more than two feet. More than 128,000 customers in West Virginia were without power.

Authorities closed more than 45 miles of Interstate 68 on either side of the West Virginia-Maryland state line because of blizzard conditions and stuck cars. The State Highway Administration in Maryland says the higher elevations in the western state have gotten more than a foot of snow since Monday afternoon, and it was still snowing at 5 am Tuesday.

5.16 pm: Hundreds evacuated as levee breaks in New Jersey

Authorities have launched a rescue effort after a broken levee flooded a small northern New Jersey town early Tuesday.

Moonachie Police Sgt. Tom Schmidt says the levee broke and left about 5 feet of water in the streets within 45 minutes.

The police and fire departments are flooded.

Officials are using boats to try to rescue about 800 people living in a trailer park.

There are no reports of injuries or deaths.

4.53 pm: Nearly 2 million without power in just New York

Of the more than 6 million American homes that are waking up to darkness on Tuesday, more than 1.9 million of them are in New York, reported the New York Times, quoting a post by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Twitter.

The New York Times report said, "In New York City and Westchester County, where more than 670,000 Consolidated Edison customers, some of them large buildings with hundreds of residents, were dark Tuesday morning, a Con Ed spokeswoman, D. Joy Faber, said it would take days to restore power.

Read more

4.42 pm: 10,000 flights grounded, Obama declares major disaster

Hurricane Sandy grounded well over 10,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they're going.

According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 13,500 flights had been canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm. By early Tuesday morning, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday also were canceled.

Major carriers such as American Airlines, United and Delta cancelled all flights into and out of three area airports in New York, the nation's busiest airspace. About one-quarter of all U.S. flights travel to or from New York airports each day. So cancellations here can dramatically impact travel in other cities.

Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. Others attempting to fly out of Europe and Asia also were stuck.

Narita, the international airport near Tokyo, canceled 11 flights Tuesday — nine to the New York area and two to Washington, D.C. All Nippon Airways set up a special counter at Narita to deal with passengers whose flights had been cancelled.

3.19 pm: President Obama declares major disaster in New York

As the damage from Hurricane Sandy continues to mount, AFP reported that President Obama had declared a 'major disaster' in New York City.

The damage has not yet been fully calculated, but so far the storm has caused fires, blackouts and flooding, leading to the deaths of at least 16 people across the country.

In New York city, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said early on Tuesday that the storm was the worst disaster in the history of the New York City subway system, while a huge fire that erupted as Sandy ripped through New York City with near-hurricane force winds on Monday night destroyed dozens of homes in one of the city's most remote neighborhoods, officials said.

"We knew that this was going to be a very dangerous storm, and the storm has met our expectations," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "This is a once-in-a-long-time storm."

Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history.

2.38 pm: US shuts nuclear plant as storm hits coast

Part of a nuclear power plant in New York was shut down late on Monday while another plant — the nation's oldest — was put on alert after waters from superstorm Sandy rose six feet (1.8 meters) above sea level.

One of the units at Indian Point, a plant about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of New York City, was shut down around 10.45 pm because of external electrical grid issues said Entergy Corp, which operates the plant. The company said there was no risk to employees or the public, and the plant was not at risk due to water levels from the Hudson River, which reached 9 feet 8 inches (2.97 meters) and was subsiding. Another unit at the plant was still operating at full power.

Meanwhile, the number of houses destroyed by a fire in a flooded neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens rose from 24 to 50.

2.15 pm: Worst disaster in NYC subway's history, says MTA chief

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said early on Tuesday that the storm was the worst disaster in the history of the New York City subway system.

"The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," said Joseph J Lhota, the authority’s chairman, in a statement. "All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal."  (Read more)

2.06 pm: 24 flooded NYC houses destroyed by fire

A fire has destroyed at least two dozen homes in a flooded neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. A fire department spokesman says more than 190 firefighters are at the blaze in the Breezy Point section. He says two people have suffered minor injuries.

Fire officials say the blaze was reported around 11 pm on Monday in an area flooded by the superstorm that began sweeping through earlier. The neighborhood sits on the Rockaway peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.

12.52 pm: The cost of a hurricane - 16 deaths, $30 billion and counting...

Although the full extent of the damage unleashed by Hurricane Sandy is as yet unknown, 16 deaths have already been blamed on the storm, and officials fear at least 10 - 20 billion dollars worth of damage.

Sixteen deaths were reported in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Some of the victims were killed by falling trees. Police in Toronto said a woman was killed by a falling sign as high winds closed in on Canada's largest city.

As it made its way toward land, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned into a fearsome superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but of snow. Forecasters warned of 20-foot (6-meter) waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) of snow in West Virginia.

Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history.

The storm also washed away a section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey. Water was splashing over the seawalls at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Bloomberg said late Monday that the worst of the rain had passed for the city, and that the high tide that sent water sloshing into Manhattan from three sides was receding.

Still, authorities also feared the surge of seawater would damage the underground electrical and communications lines in lower Manhattan that are vital to the nation's financial center.

In an attempt to lessen damage from saltwater to the subway system and the electrical network beneath the city's financial district, New York City's main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. But a far wider swath of the city was hit with blackouts caused by flooding and transformer explosions.

11.22am: Death toll from Hurricane Sandy rises to 13

At least 13 people were killed Monday in the United States and Canada as the megastorm Sandy slammed into the US East Coast, tearing down trees and power lines with hurricane-strength gusts.

At least five people were killed by the storm in New York state, including a 30-year-old man crushed by a fallen tree in the New York City borough of Queens, a spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo told US media.

Two people were killed in Morris County, New Jersey when a tree fell on a vehicle, according to a local emergency management official.

Another two people were killed in Pennsylvania, one from a falling tree and another when a house collapsed, an emergency management said, without providing further details.

Elsewhere along the East Coast, a US sailor on board a replica of the HMS Bounty was recovered from the sea and later died at hospital, and the captain was missing and feared dead after the tall ship went down off the Carolinas.

A woman in Maryland died after hydroplaning into a tree, officials said.

And in West Virginia, a 48-year-old woman was killed when her car collided with a cement truck while driving through heavy snow caused by the storm, a local official said.

11.00 am: Hurricane Sandy dominates all social media

As people post updates to friends and family, relay emergency information and lighten the mood with humour, it’s clear that discussing natural disasters on social media has become as much a part of the experience as stocking up on bread and batteries.

As of early afternoon Monday, the hashtag Sandy had 233,000 photos on Instagram, the mobile photo-sharing service owned by Facebook. “Hurricanesandy,” meanwhile, had 100,000 photos and Frankenstorm had 20,000 and growing.

To gauge how much its users are talking about a particular topic, Facebook uses a measurement tool it calls the “talk meter,” which ranks terms around a topic or event on a scale of 1 to 10. Tops that generate the most buzz receive a 10. As of Friday afternoon, Sandy-related chatter was at 7.12, the company said. In comparison, the San Francisco Giants World Series win on Sunday night measured at 6.71 on Facebook.

On Twitter, Frankenstorm, FEMA — for Federal Emergency Management Agency — and New Jersey were among the top trending topics in the United States. Forecasters expected the hurricane’s center to come ashore in southern New Jersey Monday evening.

(Read more)

10.00 am: NYSE testing back up system to restart trading

The New York Stock Exchange is testing a new system to ensure domestic equity trading restarts this week, says the Wall Street Journal. According to the report, "The broader plan outlined Monday night by NYSE and rival exchange groups BATS Global Markets Inc. and Direct Edge Holdings LLC would see the Big Board operator's all-electronic NYSE Arca platform handle critical opening and closing auctions." (Read more)

It has already been established that Hurricane Sandy will close US stock markets for a second straight day on Tuesday.

US stock markets closed on Monday due to weather for the first time in 27 years. Bond markets closed early, at noon, as winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy lashed the Eastern seaboard.

NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group, the largest two US exchange operators, have already said they intend to reopen Wednesday, conditions permitting. The bond markets will also close on Tuesday, with traders aiming to reopen on Wednesday.

Wednesday is a key trading day because it marks the end of the month, when traders price portfolios.

The broad effects of the market shutdown — the first for the NYSE in 27 years due to weather — were beginning to become more apparent by Monday, as analysts estimated banks and trading firms could lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

9.47 am: NYU hospital evacuated after generator dies

The NYU hospital has been evacuated because its back up generator ran out of power. The 200 patients are being moved to Sloan Kettering and Mt. Sinai Hospitals.

Dozens of ambulances lined up outside NYU Tisch Hospital on Monday night as doctors and nurses began the slow process of taking people out. They started with the sickest and youngest, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care. Some were on respirators operating on battery power.

NYU Medical Dean Robert Grossman says some of the patients are being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses. He says they have to be carefully carried down staircases. The elevators don't work without power.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said late Monday that the worst of the rain had passed for the city, and that the high tide that sent water sloshing into Manhattan from three sides was receding.

However there are also fears that the surge of seawater would damage the underground electrical and communications lines in lower Manhattan that are vital to the nation's financial center.

Meanwhile an explosion at a substation in Manhattan knocked out power to about 250,000 people. The New York Times quoted John Miksad, a senior vice-president at Consolidated Edison as saying that flood waters or flying debris could have been the cause.

This is a video of the explosion:

9.35 am: New Jersey nuclear plant put on alert

America’s oldest nuclear power plant is on alert after waters from a colossal storm reached high levels.

Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, New Jersey, was already offline for regular maintenance before Sandy, a superstorm downgraded Monday night from a hurricane, slammed the East Coast.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says an “unusual event” was declared around 7 pm when water reached a high level. The situation was upgraded less than two hours later to an “alert,” the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system.

Federal officials say all nuclear plants are still in safe condition. They say water levels near Oyster Creek, which is along the Atlantic Ocean, will likely recede within a few hours.

Oyster Creek went online in 1969 and provides 9 percent of New Jersey’s electricity.

10.29 am: President Obama signs emergency declarations for more affected states

The President today declared emergency situations in the States of Delaware, Rhode island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states affected by Hurricane Sandy. The order also ensures federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Sandy beginning on October 27, 2012, and continuing, said a release from the White house.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all counties of affected states.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

9.12 am: New York Hospitals being evacuated due to flooding

Reports are coming in that flooding is forcing authorities to evacuate hospitals in New York city.

Water began pooling in rail yards and on highways near the Hudson River waterfront on Manhattan's far west side. On coastal Long Island, floodwaters swamped cars, downed trees and put neighborhoods under water as beachfronts and fishing villages bore the brunt of the storm. A police car was lost rescuing 14 people from the popular resort Fire Island.

A construction crane atop a luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Residents in surrounding buildings were ordered to move to lower floors and the streets below were cleared, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The facade of a four-story Manhattan building in the Chelsea neighborhood crumbled and collapsed suddenly, leaving the lights, couches, cabinets and desks inside visible from the street. No one was hurt, although some of the falling debris hit a car.

Not only was the New York subway shut down, but the Holland Tunnel connecting New York to New Jersey was closed, as was a tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and several other spans were closed because of high winds.

Authorities had warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot (3-meter) onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower Manhattan, flood the subways and damage the underground network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial capital.

9.04 am: At least 10 deaths blamed on Sandy

At least 10 deaths have been blamed on Superstorm Hurricane Sandy.

The 10 deaths were in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police in Toronto said a woman was killed by a falling sign as high winds closed in on Canada's largest city.

Meanwhile off North Carolina, a replica of the 18th-century sailing ship HMS Bounty that was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" went down in the storm, and 14 crew members were rescued by helicopter from rubber lifeboats bobbing in 18-foot (5.5-meter) seas. Another crew member was found hours later and was hospitalized in critical condition. The captain was still missing.

Sandy knocked out power to at least 3.1 million people, and New York's main utility said large sections of Manhattan had been plunged into darkness by the storm, with 250,000 customers without power as water pressed into the island from three sides, flooding rail yards, subway tracks, tunnels and roads.

Just before its center reached land, the storm was stripped of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path. By late night, the center of the storm was over southern New Jersey.

The National Hurricane Center announced at 8 p.m. that Sandy had come ashore near Atlantic City. It smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph (135 kph). The sea surged a record of nearly 13 feet (4 meters) at the foot of Manhattan, flooding the financial district and subway tunnels.

As it made its way toward land, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned into a fearsome superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but of snow. Forecasters warned of 20-foot (6-meter) waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) of snow in West Virginia.

Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney suspended their campaigning with just over a week to go before Election Day.

At the White House, Obama made a direct appeal to those in harm's way: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm."

The storm washed away a section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey. Water was splashing over the seawalls at the southern tip of Manhattan.

8.30 am: Stock markets shut for first time in 27 years

Hurricane Sandy will close US stock markets for a second straight day on Tuesday, as Wall Street turned its attention to whether markets would be able to resume functioning on the month's final trading day.

US stock markets closed on Monday due to weather for the first time in 27 years. Bond markets closed early, at noon, as winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy lashed the Eastern seaboard.

NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX Group, the largest two US exchange operators, said they intend to reopen Wednesday, conditions permitting. The bond markets will also close on Tuesday, with traders aiming to reopen on Wednesday.

Wednesday is a key trading day because it marks the end of the month, when traders price portfolios. With New York still to feel the full impact of the storm, fears remained that wind damage and possible power outages could test the ability of markets to reopen. New York's mass transit system, which most employees use to get to work, also remained shut and it was unclear when service would be restored.

The broad effects of the market shutdown — the first for the NYSE in 27 years due to weather — were beginning to become more apparent by Monday, as analysts estimated banks and trading firms could lose tens of millions of dollars in revenue.

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange is empty of traders on Monday. AP

Some companies postponed their quarterly earnings, and banks closed branches in the Northeast, while promising to waive certain fees in hurricane-threatened areas.

Disaster modeling company Eqecat said the storm is likely to cause insured losses of $5 billion to $10 billion, and economic losses of $10 billion to $20 billion.

The trading closure also threatened to delay IPOs of at least six companies, while Facebook Inc (FB.O) employees were prevented from selling shares in the social media company after a "lock-up" on trading expired.

"If you go two days, you really start to create some serious financial stress for some players that need to get something done," said Jim Paulsen, of Wells Capital.

As Hurricane Sandy began battering the US East Coast on Monday, many Wall Street employees stayed home. Major Wall Street banks had planned to open with skeleton staffing, but with the stock and options markets closed and the bond market closing at noon, many people said they had little to do.

"There's nothing to do, so I'm just relaxing," said one New York-based equities trader at a large global investment bank, who spent most of the day in his pajamas, staying in touch with his boss and clients via phone and email.

Steve Gerbel, who runs hedge fund Chicago Capital Management, said that when he called a Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) trading desk on Monday, he got to talk to employees from its Salt Lake City office for the first time.

Since markets were closed, Gerbel said he would spend most of the day dealing with paperwork that he typically put on the back burner, and his employees would do the same, or clock out early.

"I predict my office will never be cleaner than it will be today," he said.

For operations and back-office staffers, it was a big day, as workers struggled to keep data centers and company systems up and running.

LIKE HERDING CATS

Earlier on Monday, equities trading executives pressed the stock exchanges to clearly communicate their plans to avoid a repeat of Sunday night's uncertainty.

Market participants and regulators decided late at night on Sunday to shut the stock and options markets, reversing a plan to keep electronic trading going on Monday, leaving some people complaining about confusion.

The biggest problem with the New York Stock Exchange's initial plan to trade exclusively over its ARCA electronic system was that the contingency plan that it had created in March had not been vetted by many brokerage firms, sources familiar with the situation said.

The decision to close the stock and options market came on Sunday night after SIFMA, the Wall Street trade group, held a conference call around 11 pm to debate whether to close, said a brokerage executive, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media.

"It was like trying to corral cats," the executive said.

NYSE spokesman Richard Adamonis declined comment on friction with the brokerage community over the on-again, off-again decision to open trading during the storm.

"Through the storm, SIFMA has and will continue to work with a variety of market participants to ensure smooth market function," spokeswoman Liz Pierce said in an email.

On Monday, the industry tried to avoid a repeat of the confusion. A decision to close the markets on Tuesday had been announced by early afternoon, after an industry-wide call that included regulators, broker-dealers and executives.

BONDS AND IPO PRICINGS

On a call Sunday evening hosted by SIFMA, with big banks, exchanges and other industry representatives, banks pushed for bond markets to open in New York on Monday, at least temporarily, to help secure short-term funding needs for themselves and their clients. The bond markets were open until noon, on an abbreviated schedule.

Many cautious clients took care of funding needs through Wednesday, according to a source at a large global investment bank. If firms or their clients need to get trades done during the rest of the week while markets are closed in New York, they can trade out of bank offices in Asia or Europe, he said.

The stock market's closure means companies that were looking to go public may have to wait. Six initial public offerings scheduled to price later this week will likely have to be pushed back, equity capital markets sources said. They said decisions were being made now between underwriters and the issuers.

"We can't market some of these deals while no one is on the other side of the phone," said one equity capital markets banker at a large Wall Street bank. Some deals may be pushed back to next week after the election, the source said.

Restoration Hardware, the highest profile of the public offerings set to launch this week, is still on track to price Thursday night, a source familiar with the matter said.

Radius Health, which was set to price its $61.8 million IPO later this week, is in a "wait-and-see mode," said Chief Financial Officer Nick Harvey. "We haven't made any decisions yet," he added.

With inputs from Agencies