Cyclone Sandy lashes US

Hurricane-turned-superstorm Sandy on Monday flooded streets, leaving many parts of New York City in darkness, affecting airports, subways, and even hospitals.

Runways at the Laguardian International Airport were submerged and some sections of the city’s subways were under four feet of water, while the power outage spread from the financial hub of lower Manhattan to the East Side, local media said.

The city’s utility supplier Consolidated Edison said it shut electricity supply in certain Manhattan neighbourhoods to protect underwater systems from flood damage, while the outage in the east side was caused by flooding and probable loss of a transmission feeder.

The storm killed at least one city resident, who died when a tree fell on his home in the Flushing section of Queens.

Late Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said backup power had been lost at New York University hospital and the city was working to move people out.

With the storm expected to linger, the New York bourse house will be closed for a second day on Tuesday, after its shutdown on Monday, for the first time since the attacks of 11 September 2001.

As of 8 pm EDT, the National Hurricane Centre’s data showed the storm’s maxim sustained winds were holding at about 130kph and the storm was moving northwest at 37kph.

Besides New York, the storm also hit other densely-populated eastern US cities such as Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

“This is going to be a big and powerful storm and all across the Eastern Seaboard. I think everybody is taking the appropriate preparations,” said President Barack Obama earlier on Monday afternoon during a televised White House statement.

Obama also said a lot of power outages could be expected in the affected areas and urged people to be prepared for the fact that it would take a long time to clear up after the storm due to its nature of slow moving and wide swath.

From Sunday through Monday noon, Obama has declared a state of emergency for Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Delaware where Hurricane Sandy could cause severe damage, making federal aid available for local response and rescue.

US federal offices would be closed to the public Tuesday, with only emergency employees required to work, the US Office of Personnel Management said.

Sandy, which has killed 69 people in the Caribbean, will meet up with cold fronts coming out of the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland, fueling it with enough energy to be as powerful as, or even worse than the 1991 storm. – SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua