Hurricane Sandy leaves its mark

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Hurricane Sandy tore up the East Coast Monday night and this morning, bringing sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, 11 inches of rain in some areas, flooding cities and towns, breaking levies, and leaving 7 million people without power from the Carolinas to Ohio with 65-mile-per-hour winds.

As of this morning the storm had killed at least 29 people in seven states, flooded the entire New York City subway system, shut airports, halted the New York Stock Exchange for two days, and dumped more than a foot of snow in West Virginia, according to various reports.

Significant tidal flooding occurred in several cities and towns including Jersey City and Cape May, and the National Guard was deployed to help assist in rescue efforts.

“This is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” said Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., said at a 10 a.m. press conference aired live by CNN after he had taken an aerial tour of the barrier islands.

Gov. Christie told reporters that the crews had been unable to even assess damage because wind conditions were still so bad.

“The level of devastation at the Jersey shore is unthinkable,” Gov. Christie said at the news conference.

He warned homeowners along the shore not to attempt returning to their homes anytime in the coming days.

“There was no place for me to land on the barrier islands,” Gov. Christie said. “It’s completely unsafe for homeowners to think about going out to the barrier islands.”

A broken levee in a northern New Jersey, Moonachie, had caused a tidal surge with 6-foot waves, according to CBS News. Twice the number of residents had been left without power, 2.4 million, than in Hurricane Irene, Gov. Christie said. He said “water supply issues” were also cropping up as facilities lost power.

“There has been major damage on each and every one of New Jersey’s rail lines,” Gov. Christie told reporters this morning. “Boats and other debris have been deposited on several railway tracks.”

In Queens, 80 homes were burning in a six-alarm fire that officials suspected was caused by an electrical spark and spread by Sandy’s winds, the New York Fire Department told NBC affiliate WPTV News 5. Intermittent water pressure made it difficult for firefighters to put out the fires, according to CNN News.

Remnants of the former Category 1 hurricane were forecast to head across Pennsylvania before taking another sharp turn into western New York by Wednesday morning. Although weakening as it goes, the massive storm — which caused wind warnings from Florida to Canada — will continue to bring heavy rain and local flooding, Daniel Brown, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, told the AP this morning.

Just before it made landfall at 8 p.m. near Atlantic City, N.J., forecasters stripped Sandy 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 was still dangerous to the tens of millions in its path.

Remnants of the former Category 1 hurricane were forecast to head across Pennsylvania before taking another sharp turn into western New York by Wednesday morning. Although weakening as it goes, the massive storm — which caused wind warnings from Florida to Canada — will continue to bring heavy rain and local flooding, said Daniel Brown, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

As Hurricane Sandy closed in on the Northeast, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a monstrous hybrid of rain and high wind — and even snow in West Virginia and other mountainous areas inland.

- Reagan Haynes

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