Hurricane Sandy barreled across mid-Atlantic states as a downgraded storm Monday and overnight, leaving a wave of destruction including massive flooding, power outages, fires and reports of at least 33 deaths in seven states, government officials and emergency authorities said, according to the Washington Post.
A 13-foot surge of seawater flooded streets, tunnels, parking garages and parts of the electrical system that powers Lower Manhattan, leaving a portion of the city's storied skyline dark.
Seven tunnels and several bridges leading to Manhattan were closed, the city's crucial subway system was shut down, and a fire destroyed 80 to 100 houses in the flooded Rockaway peninsula of Queens, forcing the rescue of about 25 people from an upstairs apartment. Firefighters were still battling the blazes Tuesday morning.
The storm claimed at least 10 lives in New York City, "and tragically we expect that number to go up," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) told a late-morning news conference.
Overall, the death toll climbed to 33, including 17 victims in New York state, the Associated Press reported. Storm-related fatalities were also reported in at least seven other states. Many of the victims were killed by falling trees, AP said.
"The damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive, and it will not be repaired overnight," Bloomberg said. He said all New York area airports are still shut down Tuesday and that public transportation in the city "remains closed until further notice." About 750,000 New Yorkers are without power, the mayor said.
Scores of rescue workers from New York to New Jersey slogged through sometimes waist-high floodwaters to save residents who refused to heed evacuation orders from elected officials. Some of those people resided in housing projects in New York City and were left without elevators, hot water or heat, the Daily News reports.
"I'm not leaving. I have faith in God. If he wants to get us, he will," declared Dorothy Shields, the 80-year-old tenant leader in the Red Hook East Houses in Brooklyn.
"It won't be as bad as they think it will be," she predicted.
Red Hook was one of 26 housing developments located in low-lying areas along the city's waterfront that NYCHA targeted for evacuation late Sunday.
On the election front, officials worried that the severe weather could have a negative impact on early voting in the three swing states of Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. And early voting was suspended in several places for safety reasons on Monday, including Maryland and Washington, D.C., which could hurt Democrats who were counting on the process to rally voters to the polls early. But in a turn of good news, Politico reported on Tuesday that Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that early voting would resume in his state on Wednesday and continue with extended hours each day through Friday.
"O'Malley said the addition of early voting on Friday and the extended hours for the three days this week that it will occur — from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. — 'should make up for all but about 60 minutes' of the cancellation of early voting Monday and Tuesday this week," Politico writes. "Early voting was initially scheduled to open at 10 a.m. each day."