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Historic 'Superstorm' Leaves Wake of Destruction in Northeast

- Common Dreams staff

Update (2 PM EST): Aerial view of New Jersey coastline after Hurricane Sandy from the National Guard:

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Live coverage from The Weather Channel continues:

Superstorm Sandy has left a path of devastation in her wake, leaving over seven million people without power, dozens killed in storm-related incidents, public transportation halted in areas and with more damage set to come on Tuesday as historic flooding hits the Northeast.

Weather Underground co-founder Dr. Jeff Masters writes that "The scale of this massive storm truly earns Sandy the title of 'superstorm.'"

“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” David Arnold told the New York Times from his home in Long Branch, N.J. “The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad.”

The New York Times is providing State-by-State coverage.

The Guardian also providing ongoing live coverage and updates.

The Associated Press reports:

The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80 mph (130 kph) sustained winds cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio and put the presidential campaign on hold one week before Election Day.

New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day and seawater cascading into the still-gaping construction pit at the World Trade Center. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of New York's extensive subway system, according to Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, senior vice-president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison, which had more than 670,000 customers without power in and around New York City.

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New York City:

Hurricane-force winds and flooding wreaked havoc on New York City leaving at least seven subway tunnels New York City flooded.  "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," MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota said in a statement. 

Power Failures and Furious Flooding Overwhelm Lower Manhattan and Red Hook (NYT):

With rapids-like fury, water piled out of New York Harbor on Monday night and flooded scores of city streets, venturing far deeper into neighborhoods than anyone could remember. Red Hook in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan seemed to bear the brunt of the onslaught, though similar scenes unfolded in Queens and in Upper Manhattan.

On Tuesday morning, the waters had mostly receded in the two neighborhoods across the harbor from each other, and the most recent high tide came and went without breaching the sea walls. But numerous buildings had had their first floors and basements flooded and power was out.

In Red Hook, residents and business owners picked through their waterlogged possessions. On Van Brunt Street, residents pulled soggy mattresses onto the street. A half-foot of water still filled Beard Street, and portions of Pier 41, which is filled with businesses and artist studios, appeared to be gone.

“It’s a disaster,” said Greg O’Connell, whose father, also Greg, developed much of Red Hook in the late 1990s.

Just 12 hours earlier, with the waterfront already battered by hours of winds and powerful currents brought on by Hurricane Sandy, the East River rose over South Street and flooded into Wall Street, where cars were inundated — and some appeared to be floating. Their alarms went off with blaring klaxons and flashing lights until the water silenced the alarms. The rising tide lifted the old sailing ship Peking so high that its waterline was flush with the street.

At the Battery, the water level was at 10.7 feet as of 7:20 p.m., breaking the record of 10 feet set by Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Salt Water Puts Subway 'in Jeopardy' (WSJ):

The subway system is "in jeopardy," MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said Monday. "Our subway system and salt water do not mix."

Salt can eat at motors, metal fasteners and the electronic parts, some many decades old, that keep the system running. Salt water, and the deposits it leaves behind, degrades the relays that run the signal system, preventing train collisions.

Salt water also conducts electricity, which can exacerbate damage to signals if the system isn't powered down before a flood.

The MTA closed down its entire regional network of rails and buses on Sunday evening and expected it will remain dark at least until Wednesday morning.

Cuomo Raises Possibility of Building Levee in Harbor (NYT):

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York on Tuesday raised the possibility of building a levee in New York in the aftermath of major flooding in Lower Manhattan and other parts of the city.

“It is something we’re going to have to start thinking about,” Mr. Cuomo said. ”The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level. The flooding in downtown Manhattan was really extraordinary and unlike anything I had seen.”

The New York Daily News reports:

"an out-of-control six-alarm" fire has destroyed 50 homes in a neighborhood in Queens on the Rockaway peninsula, with floodwaters making access difficult for firefighters.

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New Jersey:

NBC News:

A levee in northern New Jersey failed to hold back Sandy's storm surge on Tuesday, flooding at least four towns with up to 6 feet of water.

There were conflicting accounts on whether the levee broke or was overtopped.

In a statement, the National Weather Service said "portions" of Moonachie, Little Ferry, South Hackensack and Hackensack were submerged, with worse to come during Tuesday morning’s high tide at about 10 a.m. ET.

But Jeanne Baratta, a spokeswoman for Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan, said the flooding occurred after the swollen Hackensack River overflowed its banks.

"We are in rescue mode," said Baratta. There were no reports of fatalities as of yet, she told Reuters.

Local affiiliate NBC-10 (Philadelphia) reports:

NJ Gov. Christie called what was left behind by Sandy a "major disaster" during an interview Tuesday morning on the "TODAY Show."

"I think the losses are going to be almost incalculable," Christie told Matt Lauer.

Atlantic City was cut off from the mainland by the storm surge along with other barrier islands, stranding residents who ignored warnings to evacuate. Hundreds of people were being evacuated after a levee broke in the northern New Jersey town of Moonachie. At least three deaths were reported.

On Twitter, Christie said, "The surge was so strong we have rail cars on the Jersey Turnpike this morning."

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Nuclear power plants in the Northeast:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared an "alert" at 8:45 Monday night at Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey. The body made the call due to high water levels in the plant's intake structure.

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