Superstorm Sandy Slams Into N.J. Coast.....God Help us.....
ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY
Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline 80 mph winds and hurled a record-breaking 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City on Monday, roaring ashore after washing away part of the Atlantic City boardwalk and putting the presidential campaign on hold.
Just before its center reached land, the storm was stripped of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path.
The National Hurricane Center announced at 8 p.m. that Sandy had come ashore near Atlantic City. The sea surged a record of nearly 13 feet at the Battery, at the foot of Manhattan.
In an attempt to lessen damage from the storm, New York City's main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. Authorities worried that seawater would seep into the New York subway and cripple it, along with the electrical and communications systems that are vital to the nation's financial center.
The storm knocked out electricity to more than 2 million people and figured to upend life for tens of millions more. It clobbered the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph.
Sandy, which killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Atlantic, began to hook left at midday and was about 40 miles south of Atlantic City by evening, moving west-northwest at almost 30 mph - faster than forecasters expected.
As it drew near, Sandy moved closer to converging with two cold-weather systems to form a fearsome superstorm of snow, rain and wind. Forecasters warned of 20-foot waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and up to 3 feet of snow in West Virginia.
From Washington to Boston, subways, buses, trains and schools were shut down across the region of more than 50 million people. Amtrak cancelled all train service cross the Northeast through Tuesday, while airlines canceled 10,000 flights, disrupting the plans of travelers all over the world.
Hundreds of thousands of people were under orders to move to higher ground. The storm knocked out electricity to more than 1 million people, and storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney suspended their campaigning with just over a week to go before Election Day.
At the White House, Obama made a direct appeal to those in harm's way: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don't delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm."
New York City authorities worried that salt water would seep through the boarded-up street grates and through the sandbags placed at subway entrances, crippling the electrical connections needed to operate the subway.
Authorities also feared the surge of seawater could damage the underground electrical and communications lines in lower Manhattan that are vital to the nation's financial center.
Consolidated Edison said it was considering cutting off the power to lower Manhattan to try to protect the system from damage from salt water.
The major American stock exchanges closed for the day, the first unplanned shutdown since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Wall Street expected to remain closed on Tuesday. The United Nations canceled all meetings at its New York headquarters.
Authorities warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot (3-meter) onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower Manhattan, flood the subways and damage the underground network of electrical and communications lines that are vital to the nation's financial capital.
"Leave immediately. Conditions are deteriorating very rapidly, and the window for you getting out safely is closing," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told those in low-lying areas.
Defiant New Yorkers jogged, pushed strollers and took snapshots of churning New York Harbor Monday, trying to salvage normal routines.
Without most stores and museums open, tourists were left to snap photos of the World Trade Center site, Wall Street and Times Square in largely deserted streets.
Belgian tourist Gerd Van don Mooter-Dedecker, 56, wandered in to Trinity Church after learning that a planned shopping spree with her husband Monday wouldn't happen. "We brought empty suitcases so we could fill them up," she said.
As rain from the leading edges began to fall over the Northeast on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people from Maryland to Connecticut were ordered to leave low-lying coastal areas, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City, 50,000 in Delaware and 30,000 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The storm washed away an old section of the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and left most of the city's emptied-out streets under water. All 12 casinos in the city were closed, and some 30,000 people were under orders to evacuate.
Obama declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, authorizing federal relief work to begin well ahead of time. He promised the government would "respond big and respond fast" after the storm hits.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was typically blunt: "Don't be stupid. Get out."
Those who stayed in New York had few ways to get out. New York's subways, which serve 5 million people a day, were shut down. The Holland Tunnel connecting New York to New Jersey was closed, as was a tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the city planned to shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, the George Washington, the Verrazano-Narrows and several other spans because of high winds.
Off North Carolina, a replica of the 18th-century sailing ship HMS Bounty that was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" went down in the storm, and 14 crew members were rescued by helicopter from rubber lifeboats bobbing in 18-foot seas. Another crew member was found hours later but was unresponsive. The captain was missing.
In Maryland, the storm caused significant damage to a large fishing pier in the beach resort of Ocean City. Gov. Martin O'Malley says the fishing pier is now "half-gone."
CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reported from Ocean City, Md., that sea levels could rise 8 feet above normal - enough to flood much of the city.