All along the Eastern seaboard, places known to millions as cheery summer getaways were battered to pieces Monday by the monstrous waves and wailing winds of Hurricane Sandy.
Part of Atlantic City's Boardwalk smashed into floating lumber and two people were killed in
When the power went out at
A 79 mph wind gust was reported at JFK International Airport, with a 90 mph gust report at Islip, N.Y.
Early Tuesday morning, firefighers in Queens were battling a massive fire involving dozens of houses and being fueled by natural gas lines, according to emergency radio dispatches. The six alarm fire reportedly destroyed at least 50 homes as of 4 a.m.
About 685,000 of ConEdison's New York customers were without power 4 a.m. Tuesday, with the majority in Queens, Yonkers and Staten Island.
"This will be one for the record books," said ConEdison's John Miksad, a senior vice president. "This will be the largest storm-related outage in our history."
In Rehoboth Beach, Del.,
The threat of the storm in the city could be heard as much in eerie silence left from evacuations as by the roar of wind and waves. Empty subway platforms, vacant streets, a ghostly Grand Central Terminal — all spoke of the power of the storm seasoned meteorologists have called epic and unprecedented.
New York City and
"We knew that this was going to be a very dangerous storm and the storm has met our expectations,"
Rescue workers maneuvered through the metropolis in rafts. A four-story building's facade collapsed in the Chelsea neighborhood. The
In advance of what was expected to be the worst storm to hit New York since the devastating "Long Island Express" hurricane of 1938, the city halted mass transit, closed its bridges and two of its tunnels, evacuated low-lying areas of the five boroughs and hunkered down as Sandy churned implacably north.
Water poured into the Queens
Fearing the saltwater would damage the subway system and electrical network, New York City's main utility shut off electricity to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan.
The winds blew loose a crane on a skyscraper under construction on 57th Street; it dangled precariously 65 stories high and the upper floors of neighboring buildings were evacuated.
In Atlantic City, about 80 feet of the Boardwalk at New Hampshire Avenue was torn away. Shortly after 11 p.m., the Delaware River Bridge linking the turnpikes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey was closed due to high winds and lack of lighting.
About 60 million people from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada were in the path of the nearly 1,000-mile-wide storm, which forecasters said could be the largest to hit the mainland in U.S. history as Sandy melded with two other weather systems into a rare and powerful hybrid, much like the celebrated "Perfect Storm" of 1991.
That earlier system never made landfall, so its destructiveness was limited. Sandy's impact, by contrast, was expected to be felt far from the Northeast. Portions of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania were readying for a blizzard, with snowfall of 2 feet or more. And the winds from the massive system promised to whip Lake Michigan near Chicago into waves 20 feet high.
In Philadelphia, several hundred people had gone to city shelters, with many more expected to arrive at nightfall when the worst of the storm was expected. Mayor Michael Nutter said the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers were likely to flood, putting residents on the east and west sides of the city at risk.
New Jersey Gov.
Officials said shore communities were especially endangered by the storm because it coincided with high tides. Despite the danger, some residents in New Jersey, Maryland and elsewhere were refusing to heed evacuation orders.
With his typical bluntness, Christie called residents who refused to leave his state's barrier island communities "stupid" and said it may be impossible to rescue them.
He also slammed Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford for allowing people to shelter on the barrier island. One school serving as a shelter has flooded. Christie said the mayor should have insisted residents move inland.
"We're at a moment now where evacuation is no longer possible and we're no longer able to come and rescue people," Christie said at news conference Monday evening.
The Holland Tunnel and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which connect Manhattan to New Jersey and Brooklyn respectively, were closed, as were the
Twitter users were posting striking photos of the damage. One showed the pier at Ocean City, Md., with about 100 feet missing. Another showed an 80-foot stretch of shattered boardwalk in Atlantic City. A third showed inundated houses in Ocean City, N.J.
Power companies were preparing to deal with massive outages, having summoned backup crews from far and wide. Downed wires were only expected to be part of the problem, with wind and rain threatening substations and other equipment.
Rail commuters, cruise ship passengers and air travelers were being stranded as transportation ground to a halt across the east. New Jersey's Garden State Parkway was closed in both directions along its southern 63 miles because of flooding.
Airlines canceled more than 13,700 flights for Monday and Tuesday, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware. Philadelphia's airport was hardest hit, with more than 1,200 cancellations.
Amtrak canceled service in its Northeast corridor Monday and most Eastern seaboard service for Tuesday.