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Hurricane Sandy wreaks havoc on East Coast

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 30th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At least 28 people - sure to only increase in the days and weeks ahead - have been killed in the catastrophic storms in flooding wrought by Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast. President Obama declared a major disaster in the New York City area as the storm continued to pound the Northeast. Homes have been swept into the ocean, large swaths of floodwater have engulfed neighborhoods and millions of people remain without power.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - For millions more, the worst is yet to come. East Coast residents now face the prospect of up to a week without heat, light or refrigeration.

Ten people have been killed in New York City alone. Mayor Michael Bloomberg added that "tragically, we expect that number to go up."

More than 8.1 million homes and businesses were without power across 17 states. Nearly half of all these outages are in New York and New Jersey. NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins has warned the populace to "expect the cleanup and power outage restoration to continue right up through Election Day."

In addition, seven subway tunnels under the East River in New York City were flooded. MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota declared that "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." Subway service was unlikely to resume for four to five days.

If it wasn't from water, fire played a part in the widespread destruction as well. A massive blaze destroyed at least 80 homes in Breezy Point, a seaside community in Queens, N.Y. Crews had difficulty reaching the blaze due to the severe weather.

Even more alarmingly, half of Hoboken, N.J., was underwater, preventing emergency crews from reaching areas of the city. Mayor Dawn Zimmer says that "we want people to be aware that it's a very dangerous situation."

In a horrific flashback of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, at least four towns in north New Jersey - Moonachie, Little Ferry, South Hackensack and Hackensack were submerged by up to six feet of water after a levee broke.

The storm surge destroyed several homes on Fire Island, N.Y., where some people had decided to sit out Sandy.

The rising floodwaters sparked an alert at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. The alert was the "second lowest of four NRC action levels," it added, and was "due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant's water intake structure." There was no danger to equipment and no threat to public health or safety.

Putting a dollar amount on Hurricane Sandy's destruction was still unclear. "I think the losses will be almost incalculable," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told NBC's TODAY show.

One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, Reuters said.

The disaster declaration for New York City means that federal funds will be available to people affected by the storm, according to a White House statement.

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