Kiwi hunkers down as Sandy wreaks havoc on New York
Hurricane Sandy may be fading away, but the scars she left on the United States’ east coast will remain for decades.
The so-called ‘‘frankenstorm’’ has killed at least 62 people in nine states and brought the city that never sleeps to a grinding halt.
The 128kmh winds and heavy rain forced evacuations of much of New York’s coastal areas, caused power cuts across lower Manhattan, and flooded streets and subways.
Sandy also left at least 65 dead in her wake across the Caribbean as she hurtled to the United States.
nature played havoc with the midAtlantic, New Zealanders at home could only watch, sending messages to friends and relatives via social media.
Aucklander Patrick Watson was on the receiving end of some of the wellwishes as he sat out the storm in his Harlem abode.
The Ponsonby resident is in New York for a few months to help set up an espresso bar with some fellow New Zealanders.
‘‘I’m in an old brick building which feels pretty solid but the wind made it sway a bit, and the windows rattled and you could see debris flying about outside.’’
He says his neighbourhood was ‘‘incredibly empty’’ in the hours leading up to the storm’s surge, with people only venturing out for necessities.
In some areas stores were completely ravaged of supplies, leaving those unprepared in search of food.
‘‘I talked to my boss who lives downtown and he didn’t have power or cellphone coverage. He and his wife had to walk about 40 blocks uptown just to plug in their chargers and find a signal, and all the shops were sold out of everything,’’ Mr Watson says.
Police and fire department presence was much more prevalent on the streets, as officials directed people to local government websites to keep informed.
The subway system is a major concern, as ‘‘almost everyone relies on public transport’’, Mr Watson says.
Metro Transportation Authority chairman Joseph Lohta says staff have star- ted assessing the damage, but it could be days before water is pumped out of flooded subways.
‘‘In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now,’’ he says.
Forecasting firms are estimating the damage caused by Sandy to be in the ballpark of $50 billion, however the true cost on human lives is yet to be counted.