Sandy makes landfall, plunging millions into darkness - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sandy makes landfall, plunging millions into darkness

(RNN) – At least eight people have died from now post-tropical storm Sandy, which made landfall Monday night along the southern coast of New Jersey. 

At least one person died in Connecticut when they became trapped under a tree, according to affiliate WFSB. 

Five others died in New York state.  The Associated Press reported two deaths in New Jersey. 

Sandy has sustained winds of 85 mph. But for residents of New York City, the winds aren't causing as much trouble as the storm surge. 

Much of Manhattan is out of power and underwater.

Water was reported rushing into Battery Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel and into the World Trade Center site.

The New York Stock Exchange refuted rumors that the world famous trading floor had flooded, tweeting "There is no water in the building or in surrounding streets." 

During a briefing shortly before 10 p.m. Eastern, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged citizens to refrain from calling the city's 911 system for non-emergency calls.

He added that the dispatchers have been receiving 10,000 calls every half hour. They usually see 1,000.

Flights up and down the East Coast were canceled Monday and the New York Stock Exchange was closed Monday – the first time since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The markets will remain closed on Tuesday, as well as New York City schools.

The lights of Broadway also remained dark for a second straight day on Monday.

"The safety and security of theatergoers and employees is everyone's primary concern," said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League. 

The show will go on for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Fallon tweeted "We sent our audience home just to be safe. But we are doing our show  tonight anyway. Should be fun."

Parts of lower Manhattan are closed due to the possibility of an 11-foot storm surge at midnight Tuesday. Flooding is already occurring at Battery Park and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel is reportedly filling with water.

The Holland Tunnel also closed and a crane in Manhattan partially collapsed ahead of Sandy's arrival. 

More than 1 million in New York state were without power as of 8 p.m. EST Monday.

Approximately 248,500 were without power in New Jersey Monday afternoon, according to Gov. Chris Christie.

Off the coast of North Carolina, 14 were rescued by the Coast Guard from the HMS Bounty, a 3-mast ship that was used in the movies Mutiny on the Bounty and Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

The ship has sunk, according to CNN.

Two crew members were missing. However, Claudene Christian, 42, has since been recovered and is "unresponsive," according to the U.S. Coast Guard. She was choppered to a hospital in Elizabeth City, NC.

Vice Admiral Robert Parker, of the Coast Guard, said on CNN that the ship's crew was wearing immersion suits which "keep people afloat face up and offer thermal protection."

The ship began taking on water when the crew abandoned ship for life boats. However, three crew members were washed overboard and only one made it to the life boats. The Coast Guard continues to search for the final missing crew member, Robin Walbridge, 63.

The NHC expects 4 to 8 inches of rain across the Mid-Atlantic states, including the Delmarva Peninsula. As many as 12 inches are possible in isolated areas. The northeastern regions of North Carolina will see rainfall totals averaging 3 to 6 inches, with isolated maximum totals of 8 inches. About 1 to 3 inches are expected from the southern tier of New York through New England. Isolated totals could reach as high as 5 inches.

Snow is already starting to fall in West Virginia where 2 to 3 feet are expected, and CNN reports light flakes in Washington.

Forecasters at the NHC also believe Sandy is particularly troubling because of its potential to cause "life-threatening" storm surges. This means normally dry areas along the East Coast could be threatened by rising water levels. The storm has stopped moving easterly and is expected to begin moving westward Monday, which will result in peak surge conditions.

If peak surges occur during high tide times across the coast, above-ground water levels could reach extremely dangerous levels. Areas in Long Island Sound, Raritan Bay and New York Harbor would see water depths of 6 to 11 feet above ground. Coastal surges could also result in 4 to 8 feet of water above ground from Ocean City, MD to the Connecticut-Rhode Island board and 4 to 6 feet north of Surf City, NC.

Sandy is also on course to collide with two winter storm systems that will bring snow to states as far west as Ohio. The movement of the storms may result in ice and snow on power lines, which could cut power to millions of customers.

Both private and federal meteorologists called it a storm that would likely go down in the history books.

"We don't have many modern precedents for what the models are suggesting," NOAA forecaster Jim Cisco told the Associated Press.

States of emergency have been declared in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., in anticipation of Sandy's impact, affecting an estimated 50 to 60 million people.

More than 7,400 flights have been canceled at some of the nation's largest airports, including all New York and Washington-area airports. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York initiated a system-wide shutdown of the city's subway system at 7 p.m. ET Sunday until further notice. Bus service halted soon after. Subway and bus services in Washington and Philadelphia were also canceled for Monday.

Amtrak suspended Monday services along its Northeast Corridor, including its popular Acela Express service, spanning from Washington to Boston.

Ashley Redmond and her friend Teresa Hessler took a girls weekend to New York City when they had to evacuate. The women took the last train out of Penn Station to Albany, NY, but were met with more canceled flights.

So, the women, who are nurses in the trauma center at the Aurora Daycare Medical Center in Green Bay, WI, rented a car and are driving back home - through Canada.

"We can't do anything but laugh about it because the one time we decide to take a vacation - of course a hurricane comes, and of course our flights are canceled, and of course the trains are canceled," she Redmond said.

Federal offices in Washington will also be closed Monday.

Sandy has diverted attention from the looming presidential election, which is only eight days away.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley canceled early voting in the state on Monday due to Sandy.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney canceled two events in Virginia on Sunday and President Barack Obama canceled events in Northern Virginia and Orlando scheduled for Monday. Obama also canceled an event in Colorado Springs, CO, in order to monitor Hurricane Sandy.

"My main message to everybody involved is that we have to take this seriously," said Obama during an address Sunday evening. "It's going to be very important that populations in all the impacted states take this seriously. Listen to your state and local elected officials."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency and has mandatory evacuation for coastal areas - even closing the casinos in Atlantic City.

"Don't be stupid, get out. Go to higher ground," warned Christie during a news conference.

Shelters have been set up along the coast to assist in the evacuation process.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also urged residents to heed forecasters' warnings, delivering addresses in both English and Spanish to announce the opening of more than 70 shelters for residents living in low-lying and coastal areas. City officials issued mandatory evacuations for about 375,000 people.

"If you refuse to evacuate you're not only putting yourself at risk but the first responders who will have to rescue you," said Bloomberg .

Evelyn Blakey, 79 of Richmond, VA, is one of the city's residents who headed to a shelter after details about Sandy's forecast were released.

"I think it would be absolutely dangerous for me to remain alone with no one to assist me in what may come to pass," said Blakey.

So far, Sandy has caused two U.S. deaths. The first was reported shortly after 7 p.m. Eastern in Mansfield, CT when high winds caused a tree to fall on an unidentified person. A man was also killed in New York after a tree fell on his house.

Sandy has also been blamed for at least 60 deaths in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama and Dominican Republic.

Sandy comes towards the close of one of the busiest tropical storm seasons on record. It is the 18th named tropical storm or hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. Newly-formed Tropical Storm Tony, spinning harmlessly in the Atlantic, makes 19.

An average season sees about 12 named storms and hurricanes.

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