President Barack Obama has declared New York and Long Island to be a “major disaster” after large areas of the city woke up to flooded homes with no power on Tuesday in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
At least 22 people in seven states have died from incidents related to the storm. Massive flooding has submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district and flooded the new York City’s subway system with more than 7.4 million homes without power along the East Coast.
It was a busy night for firefighters as at least 170 of them battled a blaze that destroyed more than 50 homes in Breezy Point. An electrical explosion at a power plant also caused at least 70 people to be rescued by firefighters from their burning houses in Queens.
New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a news conference on Tuesday that while 22 people have been confirmed dead, “tragically, we expect that number to go up.”
NBC News has confirmed 22 deaths so far along the East Coast that include at least 12 who died from falling trees. A women in Queens was electrocuted when she stepped into water unable to see a live wire. A girl just 14-years-old was found dead near the shoreline in Staten Island and a man, 55, was found dead in a flooded basement in Lower Manhattan.
Hardest hit was New Jersey that was directly hit by Hurricane Sandy. “I think the losses will be almost incalculable,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told NBC’s TODAY show.
Reuters reported a forecasting company predicted economic losses could reach $20 billion.
According to Joseph Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Hurricane Sandy caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of New York’s extensive subway system considered to be the one of the largest mass transit systems in the world.
As rescues, clean-up and repair continue on Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the city’s 911 dispatchers are receiving 20,000 calls per hour for help. It is expected residents will face up to a week without power which will include the loss of refrigeration, heat and light.
Video – Hurricane Sandy Causing Total Destruction In Atlantic City
NYC’S HISTORY OF HURRICANES
- 1821 Hurricane: Without modern technology, the hurricane in September, 1821, caught New Yorkers off guard when, in one hour, the tide rose 13 feet. The East River and Hudson River breached, with their waters meeting across Lower Manhattan. The area was not largely populated then, so there were few deaths
- 1893 Hurricane A Category 1 hurricane completely destroyed Hog Island, a resort island in southern Queens
- 1938 Hurricane Nearly 200 people were killed when the Category 3 hurricane swept over Long Island and into New England. It caused millions of dollars of damages in NYC, where it killed 10 people and destroyed hundreds of trees in Central Park
- 1954, Carol The hurricane, which had sustained winds of more than 100mph, hit eastern Long Island and caused major flooding throughout New York City
- 1955, Connie and Diane Rain from the two hurricanes caused flooding across the city. There were more than 200 deaths in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey
- 1960, Donna The hurricane created an 11-foot storm tide in the New York Harbor, inflicting extensive pier damage
- 1972, Agnes The tropical storm flooded areas from North Caroline to New York and caused 122 deaths and more than $6 billion in damage
- 1985, Gloria Serious damage was inflicted on Long Island
- 1996, Bertha The tropical storm washed out the city in July 1966
- 1999, Floyd The tropical storm hit New Jersey and New York with 60mph winds and dropped up to 15 inches of rain. Flash flooding forced residents from their homes
- 2011, Irene The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm just before hitting the city, which had issued mandatory evacuation orders for those living along the coast. Up to 7 inches of rain fell as winds reached 65 mph. It inflicted an estimated $100 million in damages
Source: Information from the New York City and Nassau County Offices of Emergency Management