Power could be out for a week — a fact noted by some New Yorkers who packed their bags and headed for the exits.
The storm was blamed for 51 deaths up and down the East Coast, according to the Associated Press. The tempest played havoc with the power grid, knocking out electricity to 7.5 million people. More than 16,000 airline flights have been canceled so far. Eqecat, a firm that models the costs of catastrophes for insurance companies, estimated Sandy’s economic impact on the country at $10 billion to $20 billion.
At the point of attack was New York City, a marvel of infrastructure and civil engineering that rediscovered this week that it is a coastal city, and that nature can be vicious. Sandy’s high winds sparked fires that destroyed scores of houses. All the city’s airports remained closed Tuesday, along with the flooded subway. Wall Street never opened for business, the first two-day closure due to weather since the days of horses and buggies. The United Nations will be closed Wednesday for the third straight day.
“The damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive, and it will not be repaired overnight,” said New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I).
Bloomberg put the city death toll at 18. The toll could have been higher: Firefighters rescued 25 people from an upstairs apartment as they battled a huge blaze in the Breezy Point neighborhood of Queens. Another drama unfolded late Monday at New York University’s Tisch Hospital, when a backup electrical system failed and nurses had to evacuate infants from neonatal intensive care, carrying them down darkened stairwells to get them to the safety of another hospital.
The Breezy Point fire immolated 80 homes, one of which belonged to a congressman, Robert L. Turner (R-N.Y.).
In Brooklyn, Dave Shamoun, 58, the owner of Technico Marine Corp., a marine industry supplier, surveyed the soggy wreckage in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse.
“This is New York’s Katrina,” Shamoun said.
Some residents of Sheepshead Bay, an old fishing community in southern Brooklyn, tried to ride out the storm in their wood-frame houses and bungalows. They were inundated by fierce waves that surged in from Manhattan Beach. Water ripped apart a 100-year-old esplanade and yanked sailboats from their moorings. Mud and water invaded storefronts and shattered the plate-glass windows at Tete a Tete Cafe on Avenue Z.