Kiwi hun­kers down as Sandy wreaks havoc on New York

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

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.

While mother

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.

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