Hurricane Sandy slammed the New York region Monday night, with high winds and elevated water levels causing deaths, evacuations and massive destruction throughout the city.
At least one city resident was killed and several others injured from falling trees, fires and debris throughout the five boroughs, officials said. A 30-year-old Flushing man was crushed in his apartment when a tree fell on his home.
A day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the MTA to shut down its subway, bus and commuter rail service, the agency was forced to close all of its tunnels and bridges in the city because of high winds and sea water that was flooding tunnels and subway stations, especially in Lower Manhattan and sections of Queens. The agency said it is unsure when it would be able to resume service, though Chairman Joe Lhota warned that sea water damage could result in lengthy repairs of subway switches at a news conference earlier in the day.
By 7 p.m. Monday, Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a “Post-Tropical Cyclone,” the National Hurricane Center said. But it had sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, well above the threshold for hurricane intensity.
Surge levels were expected to be 11.5 feet above the highest high-tide levels reached during Tropical Storm Irene, the governor's director of state operations Howard Glaser said.
Out of approximately 375,000 New Yorkers ordered to evacuate low-lying city areas, less than 4,000 had showed up to dozens of shelters around the city as of Monday afternoon, officials said.
As officials urged evacuation, NYPD officers drove in marked cruisers near South Street Seaport, making announcements on loudspeakers telling folks to evacuate. If they didn't, the announcement said, they could have been charged."
As of 10 p.m. Monday night, at least 425,000 Con Edison customers were without power, a spokesman said, including about 250,000 people below 39th Street in Manhattan who lost service when the energy company’s substations flooded. The spokesman was uncertain when service would resume.
Power also failed at NYU's medical center, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. City officials confirmed to ABC News that an evacuation was taking place after backup generators failed.
There were several fires reported and people trapped in homes and vehicles, and the FDNY and NYPD struggled to handle an influx of calls to 911, with a whopping 10,000 calls per half hour, up from its normal 1,000.
“Please, please, please do not call 911 if it is not a life threatening emergency,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a brief news conference at about 10 p.m. Monday. He also asked people not to try to drive, as water was flooding streets around the city.
Canceled mass transit, downed trees and other expected damage from the storm forced the city to cancel public schools for the second day, and the New York Stock Exchange also announced it would be closed.
Firefighters and police officers were also called to several frightening emergency sites across the city Monday afternoon into evening. In Midtown, a construction crane perched atop a new luxury apartment building collapsed, leaving its beam dangling over W. 57th Street.
On Eighth Avenue near 14th Street, the front of a four-story apartment building collapsed. Luckily, nobody was injured in either incident, though downed trees hurt at least two people in separate accidents, officials said.
Ten people nationwide have been killed by the storm, the AP reported.
(WIth Tim Herrera, Ivan Pereira, Reuters and Newsday)