Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Worst Storm in 100 Years!

Continuous stream of human waste hits NY harbor following Hurricane Sandy
by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
(NaturalNews) Hurricane Sandy may have already passed through New York and New Jersey, but its aftermath is still a very present reality in New York Harbor, where an unimpeded flow of human waste continues to flood this busy, urban waterway. Recent reports indicate that the nation's fifth largest water treatment plant in Newark is still dumping some 240 million gallons of partially treated wastewater into the harbor every single day, which continues to create a very serious health hazard throughout the region.
Boaters, fisherman, and others that traditionally use the harbor and its connecting patchwork of waterways are being urged to avoid them until further notices, as bacteria levels are still too high to be considered safe. And while the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC), which operates the plant, says it is working hard to restore the facility to its normal function as soon as possible, it is unclear precisely when this will occur, as a storm surge of Sandy's magnitude has never before occurred at the plant.
"We've never had the facility flood like this," said Mike DeFrancisci, executive director of PVSC, in the days following the storm. He was quick to add that most of the toxic waste being released is not persistent, which means it will eventually break down and biodegrade. And yet at the same time, there are various other toxins, including industrial toxins, mixed in with this wastewater that are still concerning to environmental experts.
"Human waste is hazardous to public health if you get exposed to it, but it's the hidden stuff that's mixed in with the sewage that normally gets pulled out at the treatment plant that isn't getting pulled out," said Larry Ragonese, a spokesman from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. "If it was just household sewers it would be one thing, but we have to worry about all the other stuff."
According to experts, levels of bacteria in the harbor have been in slow decline since the earliest days following the storm, but public caution is still being urged as the treatment plant inches towards full recovery. In the meantime, the wastewater is being treated with chlorine, which will at least kill some of the potentially deadly pathogens, and plant facilitators are evaluating new preventive measures such as water-tight doors that they hope might protect the plant and harbor against future disasters.
Sources for this article include:
Forgotten by FEMA: Staten Island's Sandy victims vent over lack of aid
By Perry Chiaramonte
November 08, 2012
Victims of an unforgiving one-two punch from superstorm Sandy and a nor'easter that both hit New York's Staten Island say FEMA has forgotten them.
Already without power for more than a week in the wake of Sandy, hard-hit residents of the borough's South Shore braved a winter storm Wednesday night, with many -- perhaps hundreds -- huddling in condemned homes and ignoring orders to evacuate out of fear looters would take what little Mother Nature has left them.
"FEMA packed up everything yesterday and left the area," said MaryLou Wong, whose home in the Midland Beach neighborhood was destroyed. "They haven't come back."
Punch-drunk residents' ire is also aimed at the city -- which is going door-to-door to order people out of their homes -- at the American Red Cross, which some say has not done enough and at police and firefighters. One group of residents, calling themselves the "Brown Cross," is patrolling the devastated streets, armed with walkie-talkies, and helping residents clear debris and pump water from their flooded homes.
“We’ve done more for our community than FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard combined, directly hitting houses and people in need,” Frank Recce, the 24-year-old longshoreman and Iraq Army veteran who organized the group, told
Staten Island residents fed up with FEMA organize own relief efforts
Last week, when President Obama toured the New Jersey and New York coastal areas hit hard by Sandy, he vowed to get help to the victims quickly.
“No bureaucracy. No red tape,” Obama vowed.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that the storm could cost the state $33 billion.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency is helping, and urged people to go to 621-FEMA (3362). He also said temporary, manufactured housing is on the way. Officials described the homes are trailers, but are different from those used to house victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans seven years ago.
"FEMA is part of a big team on the response and "recovery to Sandy, and we continue to closely coordinate with our partners in and outside of government," Fugate said.
But it didn't sit right with many that FEMA, citing the weather, closed temporary recovery centers - where apply for help - as the nor'easter bore down on the borough. They closed Tuesday at 6 p.m. due to safety concerns in advance of the nor'easter that hit the borough.
"We moved our mobile stations to a staging area for 24 hours to ensure the safety of our workers and others," said FEMA spokeswoman Hannah Vick. "These places are not shelters. We certainly did not want people traveling out to these locations during last night's storm."
The agency was to open a pair of mobile disaster recovery centers at noon, after opening two earlier on Thursday. FEMA officials said the agency plans to bring in more of the mobile units in the coming days.
“Locations are being opened "back up and damage is being assessed,” Fugate said during a conference call on Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, more than 4,000 people were without power on Staten Island. Hundreds were staying in temporary shelters, where many complained they were treated like prisoners -- given curfews and rationed food.
“It’s gotten pretty unbearable. People are sleeping on floors. The shelter wasn’t prepared,” Edwin Mansour, a Staten Island resident who has taken refuge at Bailey Seton Hospital since he lost his home during Sandy, told “Now [they're] locking us in, trying to turn this place into a homeless shelter. They’ve been giving us curfews. We have plenty of food but they are hoarding it in another part of the building, only handing a little bit out,” he added.
Many more victims -- likely hundreds -- chose to ride out the nor’easter in homes deemed unsafe out of fear that looters could strike and take whatever they have left.
“The big unknown is how many people are remaining in their homes, homes that are essentially uninhabitable, people who, by Friday or next week, when the weather gets colder and the rains come, are going to come to the realization that they can no longer stay where they are,” state Sen. Andrew Lanza told the Staten Island Advance.
The city Buildings Department was going door to door in Staten Island’s hard-hit neighborhoods and posting color-coded placards on homes to notify residents if they could go back in.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, our inspectors have been canvassing the City, inspecting affected buildings and tagging them with green, yellow or red placards based on their condition," said Ryan Fitzgibbon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings. "This is part of our rapid assessment process to conduct as many initial inspections as quickly as possible and provide New Yorkers with information on the status of their buildings.”
Green and yellow placards signify the home is safe to re-enter, but for homes with red placards, the city advises residents to “hire a New York State-licensed professional (Registered Architect or Professional Engineer) to file plans with the department and a hire a contractor to make the necessary repairs.
Hiring an architect was not on the immediate horizon for residents who were simply trying to survive. Those who didn't guard their homes went to shelters, and even huddled together on buses as the second storm, dubbed Athena, dumped nearly half-a-foot of snow.'s Jana Winter contributed to this report.
Lessons From the Storm
By Lee Duigon
November 8, 2012
(Note: I am writing this before the election. Afterward, I will be either too elated or too depressed to write coherently about anything.)
After spending five days without heat and without electricity, and seeing so many of my neighbors so much worse off than that, I find that Hurricane Sandy teaches us important lessons. These are lessons that apply no matter who’s in the White House.
First lesson: Government by its very nature is too big, too slow, too cumbersome, too far removed from the scene of the action, too easily distracted by politics, and too wasteful ever to be able to react swiftly and efficiently to emergencies. During a crisis and its aftermath, bad things happen fast. People wind up shivering in the dark because some clerk in Washington didn’t submit the right paperwork for fuel and blankets.
Let’s indulge in high fantasy and assume no corruption, no spite or pettiness, no out-and-out incompetence—a government of angels. Even then there are still so many chutes and ladders between Washington and Staten Island, it’s simply impossible not to get hung up on one or more of them. Even New York’s state government in Albany is too big, too slow, too far away.
If needful things don’t get done locally, it’s likely that they won’t get done at all. They preach and preach at us to be dependent on the government, but when we really need it, the government always lets us down.
Second lesson: Bad news for Agenda 21 fans—when high-density occupancy fails, it fails big. Herding people together like cattle makes them more vulnerable to natural disasters. You don’t want to be on the 20th floor of a high-rise when the power conks out. Massing all the people into one small area only makes them a target. Take the same people and spread them out in a suburb, and there will always be some who escape the worst of it.
Third lesson: If you live along the coast, you can be sure that sometime during your life, you’re going to get walloped by a coastal storm. Ask anyone who’s lived on Long Beach Island, NJ, for the last 50 or 60 years. They’ve all been through it more than once—homes washed out to sea, people swept away, communications severed, the works. In the 1962 storm, a U.S. Navy destroyer was tossed up on the beach like a toy, and the town’s police chief perished on a flooded road.
It’s not possible to protect the coastal population from coastal storms. Sooner or later they’re going to get it. It goes with the territory. So might it not be wise to have, within easy reach of those shore communities, warehouses stocked with generators, gasoline, food, blankets, bottled water, etc.?
Fourth lesson: Under no circumstances will big-government utopians and Global Warming zealots ever change their minds. Got a hurricane? It must be Global Warming! Got a blizzard? Ditto!
For them any excuse at all is an excuse to grow the government. Like other simple organisms, they respond the same way to every stimulus. Too hot? Twitch. Too cold? Twitch. Raise taxes. Create a new bureaucracy. Hire thousands more government employees, to be pensioned off at 55 and paid handsomely for the rest of their lives for not working. Draw up a few thousand more new rules and regulations further restricting what we can do, and adding to the list of things we must do. Whether it’s a hurricane, a blizzard, an earthquake, a tsunami, a volcano, or an invasion from Mars, it must be caused by Global Warming and only a bigger, costlier, more powerful government can save us—any excuse to hop on a private jet to Davos, Switzerland, and there sip champagne while pontificating on the need to deprive the poor plebs of their air conditioning. We’ve seen it all before.
Fifth lesson: In a time of crisis, what most politicians are good at is getting their picture taken, and precious little else. It’s hard to forget Mayor Giuliani and his police and fire commissioners actually on the scene on September 11, at no small risk to their own lives, trying to get things done. But the reality seldom lives up to that idea. The usual pattern—be it a president, governor, senator, or grand poobah—is, “He came, he saw, he got his picture taken, and he left.” Sometimes they offer what they think is good advice, as when Mayor Michael Bloomberg, during a rather nasty blizzard two or three years ago, counseled frustrated New Yorkers to go see a Broadway play. Sometimes even your local government is all but useless.
Sandy will not be the first hurricane to blast our shores. These are acts of God that no man can control, no matter how high they raise your taxes.
But if we could wean ourselves off FEMA and the rest of the government’s unkept and unkeepable promises, we just might, maybe, find some ways to be better prepared, locally, for the next disaster.
© 2012 Lee Duigon - All Rights Reserved
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on
Troopers deployed around NJ and NYC as gas shortages, power losses raise anger levels
by: J. D. Heyes
Friday, November 02, 2012
(NaturalNews) Just days after Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeast, leaving huge swaths of New York City powerless and flooded, anger is rising among residents as shortages in food, gasoline and basic supplies begin to take their toll.
In what is becoming a case study for why disaster preparedness is so vital, state troopers are being deployed in greater numbers at gas stations along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, where stocks of gasoline are beginning to run low, causing frayed nerves and high angst on the third full day of massive power outages that industry analysts don't expect will be fixed too soon.
Fox News and other outlets are reporting that frustration with dwindling supplies of gasoline and other necessities of life is beginning to boil over in the tri-state region of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the states hardest hit by superstorm Sandy-caused power outages.
"Residents jockeyed for fuel at the few stations still pumping, searched store shelves in vain for batteries, struggled with sporadic cell phone service and found themselves unable to buy necessities at supermarkets," Fox News reported.
In statements released to reporters, New Jersey State Police officials said their officers would be deployed in conjunction with local police, "to ensure safety and security."
"Troopers have been deployed to monitor the operational gas stations at the rest areas along the turnpike," New Jersey State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman told Fox News.
'You're waiting in line for five friggin' gallons of gas!'
Gas has been in heavy demand in the region following the storm, both to power automobiles and for home generators. It's one commodity that has thousands waiting in line, which is only adding to the frustration and loss of patience.
In Wayne, N.J., for instance, police reported that they were forced to break up heated confrontations at gas stations all day long Wednesday. In Brooklyn, meanwhile, tempers overheated at a Getty station, as some drivers exited their cars and exchanged angry words.
"I don't have any lights and need this gasoline for my generator," Abdul Rahim Anwar told Reuters as he waited at a Getty service station in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
He wasn't the only one.
Officials say better than half of all gas stations in the New York City area and New Jersey are not operating - either because they don't have fuel or because they don't have the electricity to operate their pumps.
Worse, supplies in the area aren't likely to rise, since a good number of pipelines and refineries have been shuttered due to storm damage. As of Wednesday, reports said, more than 80 percent of gas stations in New Jersey could not sell gasoline.
In southeastern Connecticut, residents were driving more than an hour north to find stations that had power to pump gasoline. One station attendant said the tension becomes especially pronounced after customers wait in line to fill gas cans, as opposed to vehicle fuel tanks.
"You're waiting in line for five friggin' gallons of gas," he said.
In Northvale, N.J., at an Exxon station where a line of cars stretched for a third of a mile into the late hours of Wednesday night, a separate line of men carrying red gas cans inched along as well.
"I'll wait here all night," Cliffside Park resident Barry Levin, 42, said. "I need this for my family."
Aware of the worsening crisis, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made moves to increase supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel by cutting red tape that makes it harder for stations to buy from out-of-state suppliers. That waiver will remain in place at least until Nov. 7, his administration said.
"When shortages threaten after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, fuel buyers need to venture farther from state borders to ensure that their customers get the gasoline and diesel they need," Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff said. "Temporarily suspending licensing is a prudent way of empowering merchants to buy fuel farther from the state line, boosting supplies for New Jersey motorists who need fuel to get to work and do their jobs."
Kevin Beyer, head of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association in Smithtown, N.Y., said if most customers only knew that the gas they need is sitting just underground at gas stations, it just can't be pumped at the moment, they'd be even more frustrated.
'You see the worst in people at times like this'
"I have gas in the ground but no power," Beyer said. "For many others they're facing the opposite problem, with power but no gasoline. For the few stations that are lucky enough to have both they've got huge lines out front."
He says it could be the end of next week before all gas stations are operating again.
For now, the lack of supplies is fraying nerves.
Reports said Thursday that a scuffle broke out between two men carrying gas cans near Mendham-Chester, N.J., when one of them filled his pick-up with gas after first filling his gas can. Shortly after he finished, the computer that controlled the pump went dead, causing attendants to turn away a long line of waiting customers.
In addition to gasoline, batteries - particularly "D" batteries - were in high demand, but stores that carried them were cleaned out in short order following the storm. Before that happened, some reports said the batteries were selling for as much as $5 each.
It is behavior like this that makes it imperative to prepare before disaster strikes.
"You see the worst in people at a time like this," said an Orange, N.Y., Lowe's manager. "We're trying to be there for them, but they get angry when they can't get batteries or flashlights. I tell the staff not to take it personally - people are hurting."
Unrest growing among NJ, NY citizens: Dumpster diving for food, fist fights over fuel, tempers flare in Sandy aftermath
by Mike Adams
Friday, November 02, 2012
(NaturalNews) The first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the "polite" hours. Residents operate under the illusion that Big Government will soon save them with emergency supplies: food, water, fuel, clothing and more. So they follow the rules and "play nice."
After about the third day, all those social niceties start to erode. People are hungry and angry. There's a feeling of desperation and even abandonment. What seemed to be a polite society two days earlier suddenly becomes more sinister. The survival needs of individuals begin to outweigh social boundaries, and what emerges is desperation... even panic.
"Dwindling gasoline supplies are causing frayed nerves as the region endures its third full day with massive power outages." reports Fox News. "Frustration with gas supplies topped the list of issues causing tensions to boil over in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, the states hardest hit by power outages in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Residents jockeyed for fuel at the few stations still pumping, searched store shelves in vain for batteries, struggled with sporadic cell phone service and found themselves unable to buy necessities at supermarkets."
State troopers have now been deployed to gas stations in an effort to head off near-riots as citizens lose patience and tempers flare.
On Twitter, fist fights are being reported over fuel shortages. Police have had to draw guns on some people, reports
That article includes posts from Twitter users:
You know things are bad when you ask the gas station attendent "when do you think you're going to get more gas?" and he just laughs at you. - Prede (@predederva) November 1, 2012
Just awful! RT @metrogypsy: Someone just pulled a knife at Greenpoint #gas station as line stretches with hours long wait #gettingrealFAST - Camila Xavier (@camilaxavier) November 1, 2012
Watching the breakdown of society at a gas station on Long Island. #sandysucks - Christina (@wooly_says) November 1, 2012
There are also tweets from some users who are intelligent preppers... like this one from JohnnyRH:
I live in Utah and the people here are big into "prepping"... I have relatives in NJ and just last week we were talking and they thought I was nuts to own guns, store fuel and water and have a generator. Most people are totally blind to what chaos will come with a really large power grid failure over half or all of the country. It will take little more than a week for all hell to break loose and riots will be the norm.
"We're going to DIE!"
Another report from ABC News reveals the desperation and panic now forming among residents in Staten Island.
"We're going to die! We're going to freeze! We got 90-year-old people!" Donna Solli told visiting officials. "You don't understand. You gotta get your trucks down here on the corner now. It's been three days!"
The situation is so bad that even the Red Cross is being blamed for not showing up with supplies:
"This is America, not a third world nation. We need food, we need clothing," Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro said today. “My advice to the people of Staten Island is: Don't donate to the American Red Cross. Put their money elsewhere." (ABC News)
NBC News reports:
Staten Island officials had some choice words Thursday to describe what they said was a feeble disaster-relief response to people left dying, homeless and hungry in the New York City borough hit particularly hard by Sandy. Staten Island's top elected official blasted the American Red Cross response as "an absolute disgrace" and went so far as to urge its residents not to donate to the largely volunteer agency.
No gas for a week, no power for two
This situation, by the way, is only going to get FAR WORSE before it gets better. CNBC reports gas shortages will continue for at least a week, possibly longer. That's seven more days even while desperation has already taken hold on day three!
And power? Con Edison says it will be another 10 days before power is restored to the majority of customers currently in the dark.
As long as the power is out, gas stations can't pump gas, and that means continued gas shortages. That, in turn, means more desperation, starvation and even panic as residents can't use vehicles to acquire food and supplies. The American way of life, remember, is almost unimaginable without gasoline. Half the population seems physically incapable of walking anywhere these days, and almost nobody own bicycles anymore.
Things are going to get a lot worse over the next few days
What happens when millions of people packed into high-density cities can't get food, fuel or electricity?
People get desperate, of course. Desperation is about to set in. In the days ahead, you're going to see more fights and even weapons brought to bear in real-life survival scenarios. The federal government will predictably fail to reach people with the help they need, and people who neglected to prepare will find themselves in ever-more-desperate circumstances.
This is a time when nearly everybody suddenly realizes gee, it sure would have been smart to have been a prepper.
What's the value of having emergency food, fuel, a water filter, batteries and a fully loaded Remington shotgun in the hours after a superstorm? Priceless.
Preparedness is the solution
What's the solution to all this frustration and panic? Preparedness.
If the people of Staten Island or NYC had been prepared for the storm that they knew was approaching, they wouldn't be in a state of desperation right now!
If they had stored some of their own food, fuel, water and emergency supplies, they wouldn't be panicked for the Red Cross to show up and save them.
If they had intelligently planned ahead and taken action based on the seven days of dire weather predictions that preceded the storm, they wouldn't need to beg for big government to bail them out!
The answer to disasters like Sandy is to be a prepper.
Preppers are the new prophets
In the wake of Sandy, preppers suddenly seem like geniuses. While being ridiculed by the rest of the population for as long as we can all remember, preppers are the ones still standing in the aftermath of the storm.
They're the ones you don't see on the news, begging for help and panicking over the situation, because the preppers are sitting in their homes, eating their stored food, drinking their filtered water, double-checking their shotgun loads and staying off the streets. Preppers are the ones NOT looting, NOT complaining about the Red Cross, and NOT diving in dumpsters to find food while waiting around for the government to show up and save them.
Preppers are the new prophets. And those who failed to prepare are the new homeless.
Sandy's aftermath: 33 dead, millions without power
By Matt Smith and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Tue October 30, 2012
(CNN) -- Rescuers plucked stranded New Jersey residents from flooded neighborhoods, workers pumped water from swamped Manhattan tunnels and stunned homeowners dug through the wreckage of their houses Tuesday after Superstorm Sandy ripped into the Northeast.
"I've lived here for 39 years," Toms River, New Jersey, restaurateur Keith Paul told CNN. "I've been through several hurricanes, going back to Gloria. And I've never seen anything like this at all."
Sandy struck land near Atlantic City, New Jersey, around high tide Monday night, whipping up a storm surge that ripped apart piers on the Jersey Shore and inundated subway and highway tunnels in New York.
The U.S. death toll rose to at least 33 by late Tuesday, spanning the Eastern Seaboard from North Carolina to Connecticut, plus one in Canada. That's on top of the 67 fatalities inflicted in the Caribbean last week.
"I never thought I'd see what I saw today," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters after spending the day reviewing the damage to his state.
Recovery efforts were starting to take hold Tuesday night. The number of electric customers shivering without power fell to just under 6.9 million, down from nearly 8 million reported earlier in the day across 15 states and the District of Columbia. Two of the New York area's major airports, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty, were slated to reopen Wednesday with limited service.
But thousands of people waited in shelters, not knowing whether their homes had survived. Salt water streamed down the concrete canyons of lower Manhattan as utility workers pumped out the passages that run beneath the city.
And as if the water wasn't enough, the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point lost scores of homes to an inferno that erupted at the height of the storm even as other houses within a few blocks were washed away.
"In all honesty, it looks like a war zone," Breezy Point resident Mike Long said. "It looks like during the night, that fighter planes or bombers came through and just bombed the entire area. It just looks terrible."
Christie said about 1,000 people had been rescued Tuesday. But those efforts were scaled back at nightfall because of the hazards lurking in the dark, swirling water that lingered across much of the region.
"There's poles down, there's trees down across wires with transformers blowing up on the street," Paul said. "You go out and walk around, it's dangerous, because if you hit a puddle and it's got electricity -- there's really not much you can do until things get cleaned up a little bit."
And in Newark, Mayor Cory Booker said authorities there were still struggling to get help to residents with medical problems.
"I've got high-rise buildings with seniors who might be dependent upon power and electricity for medical machines, people who have medicine that requires refrigeration," Booker said. "We have to get to those people, have to get them secure, got to get them to hospital. We still have flooded areas. We still have a lot of challenges."
Atlantic City, famed for its beaches, boardwalk and blackjack, became an extension of the ocean as seaweed and flotsam swirled in the knee-deep water covering downtown streets. But while the property damage there was "pretty extensive," Mayor Lorenzo Langford said, "I'm happy to report that the human damage, if you will, has been minimal."
One fatality had been reported in Atlantic City, Christie said Tuesday night.
Parts of the boardwalk were washed out in the storm, Langford said, but the Atlantic City Alliance, which promotes tourism there, said the damage was limited to a residential area away from the district most tourists visit.
Christie said seeing the damage left behind to the state's treasured beaches was "overwhelming," to him "as a kid born and raised in this state."
"We will rebuild it. No question in my mind, we'll rebuild it," he said. "But for those of us who are my age, it won't be the same. It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed in to the ocean."
Transit systems struggle to restart
Across the Hudson River, meanwhile, parts of New York could be without electric service for four days, Consolidated Edison President Kevin Burke told reporters. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said restoring power and mass transit were the biggest challenges facing officials in the days ahead.
"I'm happy to say it's the beginning of a process that we all know will take a while," Bloomberg said. "But this is the end of the downside, and hopefully from here is going up."
Free but limited bus service was resumed Tuesday evening to take up some of the slack left behind by the crippled subway system, and the New York Stock Exchange was scheduled to resume trading Wednesday morning.
While the East Coast was still grappling with the scope of the disaster, federal officials warned that Sandy was an ongoing concern with the potential to inflict more pain on inland states. The storm was centered about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh and packing 45-mph winds Tuesday evening, bringing flood warnings to Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania and blizzard warnings to higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains.
"The coastal impacts are certainly less today than they were last night, but the effects are not zero," National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb told reporters in a conference call.
Forecasters predict the storm's center of circulation will be north of the Great Lakes by Wednesday. But coastal flooding in the 2- to 4-foot range could still occur "in spots," while the potential for other floods stretched as far west as Lake Michigan, Knabb said.
Superstorm Sandy's toll
The full scale of Sandy's wrath has yet to be determined. But according to a government prediction, the storm's wind damage alone could result in more than $7 billion. One estimate from Kinetic Analysis Corp., which conducts weather hazard assessments, said the storm's economic impact could be up to $25 billion.
In Washington, President Barack Obama pledged the full support of the federal government for recovery efforts. He signed major disaster declarations for New Jersey and New York on Tuesday, clearing the way for federal aid to residents and to state and local authorities.
"My instructions to the federal agency has been, 'Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something. I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy.' There's no excuse for inaction at this point," Obama said during a visit to the headquarters of the American Red Cross. "I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible."
Waking up to floods, fires and darkness after Sandy
The storm's timing a week before the presidential election is tricky for Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Both candidates sought to balance the real threat of a killer storm against the need to squeeze out any last-minute advantages in battleground states ahead of next Tuesday's vote.
Obama discarded campaign events in Florida and Virginia to return to Washington and address the storm from the White House. He was scheduled to travel to New Jersey on Wednesday and survey storm damage, the White House said.
On Tuesday, Romney swapped campaign rallies for a relief event in Ohio.
"We have heavy hearts as you know with all the suffering going on in a major part of our country. A lot of people are hurting this morning," said Romney, adding that he had the chance to speak with some of the governors from the affected areas.

Concerns On Rise As Hurricane Sandy Expected To Hit 26 Nuclear Power Plants
By: RT
October 29, 2012
Millions of Americans are preparing to lose electricity as Hurricane Sandy speeds up the East Coast, but downed power lines might be the least of their worries: the projected path of the storm has Sandy hitting as many as 26 nuclear plants.
More than two dozen nuclear facilities up and down the East Coast could be ravaged by a storm expected to be of epic proportions this week. Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer of energy consulting company Fairewinds Associates, warns in a recent podcast that even if engineers at plants from North Carolina to New England say their plants have been shut down and are safe from disaster, it may already be too late.
During a recording uploaded to the Fairewinds website on October 28, the nuclear expert explains that facilities that are shut-down in preparation of severe storms like Sandy could still contain dangerous radioactive materials in their cooling pools for as long as two days.
“The plant can withstand relatively high winds, but the transmission grid can’t — that’s all those transmission towers that are all over the states,” Gundersen says. “So what’s like to happen is that power lines will go down and the plant will suffer what will call loss of offsite power,” the same thing that happened at Fukushima, Japan.
Gundersen says that once offsite power is shut down, plants will automatically halt its nuclear chain reaction process because that energy will have nowhere to go. “The plant needs to drop its power immediately because there is no wire at the other end to send it anywhere if the offsite power is lost,” he says.
“There’s 26 power plants in the East Coast that are in the area where sandy is like to hit, and hopefully as the storm track becomes better defined, the plants that are most subject to it — likely New Jersey and Pennsylvania — preventively shut down,” Gundersen says. Assuming those facilities preemptively put their nuclear plans on hold, he adds, “will of course minimize the impact: the jarring to the nuclear reactor and its safety systems.”
But even if plants are shut down, though, onsite power will need to be pushed somewhere, which then raises an entirely independent question of how to handle a surplus of radioactive, intense energy.
“When offsite power is lost, the plant is forced to dramatically reduce power real quickly and then it still needs to be cooled,” he says.
“You’ll hear in the next two days, ‘we’ve shut down the plant,’” he says, “but what that means is they stopped the chain reaction. But what Fukushima taught us was that that doesn’t stop the decay heat. There is still as much as 5 percent of the power from the power plant that doesn’t go away when the plant shuts down, and for that you need the diesels to keep the plant cool,” referring to the diesel-powered generators that will control the reservoirs.
“Some of these plants have two diesels, and some of these have three diesels, and they are designed so that if one of these fails then they can still get by,” he says. “As the plant operator, as the people running the plant, it’s a little bit of a nervous time to realize that you’re on your last fall-back,” he warns. “You just hope that’s your last fall-back.”
Even if pools can still be powered and cooled, that doesn’t mean that a chance of a disaster is nil: according to a McClatchy report from 2011, the cooling pool used in the US contain much more nuclear material on average than those in Japan.
Some facilities in the storm’s trajectory, such as the nation’s oldest nuclear plant — Oyster Creek in Lacey, New Jersey — have already pulled the plug for other reasons. In that case, routine maintenance has already allowed the facility a few days to cool down and will likely spare South Jersey from any otherwise imminent disaster. Across the East Coast, though, other sites might still pose a risk.
Speaking to Bloomberg News, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan says the agency is prepared to see “an impact to coastal and inland plants” and is planning on stationing inspectors at plants expected to be hit.

Sixty million at risk as deadly 'Frankenstorm' Sandy triggers mass evacuations
29 October, 2012
The ‘Frankenstorm’ Sandy is set to be unprecedented in size once it hits the US mainland Monday night. Tens of millions of people could be affected as the hybrid hurricane wreaks havoc from the East Coast to the Great Lakes on Halloween week.
­Increasingly dire warnings of powerful winds, power outages, widespread flooding, torrential downpours and even snow are being sounded in New York and other major population centers as Hurricane Sandy continues its trek up from the Caribbean.
President Obama signed an emergency declaration for the states of New York and Massachusetts and District of Columbia on Sunday evening.
Forecasters said Sandy is set to transform into "super storm," as the tropical storm merges with a winter storm and a cold front, threatening up to 12 inches of rainfall in some areas and heavy snow inland.
"We're looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people," says Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Set to approach the coasts of the mid-Atlantic states by Monday, Sandy is likely to make landfall in the New York metropolitan area, home to about 22 million people, on Monday night.
The Category 1 storm’s sustained winds of 75 mile per hour are nothing extraordinary, but with hurricane force winds reaching out 105 miles from its center and weaker tropical storm-force winds extending 700 miles, forecasters are on edge about its potential impact.
The powerful gusts are expected to stretch as far inland as Pennsylvania.
“These winds are just amazing in terms of their high speed. I cannot recall ever seeing model forecasts of such an expansive areal wind field with values so high for so long a time. We are breaking new ground here,” a National Weather Service meteorologist in the agency’s Washington, DC/Baltimore office said on Saturday night.
"The size of this [Sandy] alone, affecting a heavily populated area, is going to be history making," said Jeff Masters, a hurricane specialist who writes a blog for Weather Underground.
This image obtained on October 28, 2012 from the University of Wisconsin'd Space Science and Engineering Center, shows Hurricane Sandy off the US East coast (AFP PHOTO / UW-SSEC)
Those far away from costal areas still have cause for alarm, as forecasters predict that inland flooding from the storm surge could pose a much greater risk than the winds.
Utilities officials have also warned that rain-saturated grounds could send trees plummeting into power lines, leaving residents at home without electricity for days.
Officials have urged residents to stock up on food, water and batteries, with grocery stores being swamped in anticipation of the potential power outages.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a mandatory evacuation of Gotham's low-lying areas, home to some 375,000 people in total.
"If you don't evacuate, you are not only endangering your life, you are also endangering the lives of the first responders who are going in to rescue you," Bloomberg said at a news conference Sunday.
The city's school system will also be closed on Monday, the mayor continued.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had previously noted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had directed "an orderly shutdown and suspension of all subway, bus and commuter railroad service" beginning at 7 pm Sunday.
Cuomo also said the decision to shut down the state's bridges and tunnels would be made on a case-by-case basis.
The city closed the subways before Hurricane Irene last year, with a Columbia University study predicting that an Irene surge just one foot higher could have shut down lower Manhattan.
Bloomberg's stark warning to residents regarding evacuation might have been spurred by fears that complacency had set in once Hurricane Irene turned out to be far weaker than initially predicted.
Irene, which struck the eastern US in August 2011, was responsible for 56 deaths and $15.6 billion dollars in damage, making it the fifth costliest storm in the country's history.
"The National Weather service believes there is increasing potential for high winds, coastal flooding and heavy rains across a broad area for a lengthy period of time Sunday through Tuesday," said Howard Glaser, director of New York State Operations.
Next door in New Jersey, hundreds of coastal residents started moving inland after Governor Chris Christie declared a state of emergency on Saturday. A dozen Atlantic City casinos were closed following the declaration, as the gambling hub is located on a barrier island. The town’s nearly 40,000 residents will be evacuated Sunday, city officials said.
Atlantic City is likely to flood, as National Weather Service Forecasters in New Jersey predicted “larger mainstream flooding for Tuesday through much of the week.”
A sign reads "Danger Ocean Closed" at the entrance to the beach, due to approaching Hurricane Sandy, on October 28, 2012 in Ocean City, New Jersey (Mark Wilson / Getty Images / AFP)
A man surfs as Hurrican Sandy approaches on October 28, 2012 in Long Beach, New York (Mike Stobe / Getty Images / AFP)
As of 8:00 am EST, Hurricane Sandy was located roughly 395 miles south of New York City and is moving over the Atlantic parallel to the coast at a clip of 14 mph. It is expected to make a sharp westerly turn towards the coast on Sunday night.
Sandy is expected to transform into “a large and intense post-tropical cyclone as it turns toward the northwest," Environment Canada said early Sunday morning.
"It is possible that this transition could intensify the storm slightly further prior to moving inland somewhere along the New Jersey coast late Monday night or Tuesday morning," the agency continued.
"As many as 23 million Canadians stand to be affected by this storm. That's 70% of the country," meteorologist Mark Robinson at The Weather Network warned on Saturday.
Sandy has already been felt on the campaign trail, as President Barack Obama was forced to cancel campaign stops in Virginia on Monday and Colorado on Tuesday, while Republican contender Mitt Romney canceled all his scheduled events in Virginia and moved to the crucial swing state of Ohio instead, where he is currently neck and neck with the president.
Obama said he was working with state and local officials to make sure they had ample resources to prepare for the potential disaster, which could leave millions of Americans in its wake.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is readying water, meals, blankets and other resources at support bases, the White house announced on Saturday.

Worst storm in 100 years: East Coast waits in terror for Frankenstorm
26 October, 2012
Some Americans may have to think twice about going trick-or-treating this year. A massive storm is expected to hit the East Coast during the days leading up to Halloween, which meteorologists anticipate will cost at least $1 billion in damages.
The “Frankenstorm” may bring high winds, heavy rain, extreme tides and even snow to some states. The storm will evolve from a collision between Hurricane Sandy, which has already swept through Haiti and Cuba and is now heading north, and a winter storm coming from the west. Government forecasters say there is a 90 percent chance that the hurricane will make landfall on the East Coast.
The two weather systems are predicted to collide in New York or New Jersey Tuesday morning, bringing those states about 5 inches of rain and winds close to 40 mph. Forecasters say it could be the worst US storm in 100 years. Chuck Watso, director of research and development at Kinetic Analysis Corp., announced Thursday that it may cost more than $5 billion in damages.
“It’s pretty much the worst case scenario with the potential for historic coastal flooding, copious amounts of rain, and damaging winds,” Jason Samenow of the Capital Weather Gang wrote in the Washington Post.
“It’s definitely something that everyone should be watching,” Nelson Vaz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Wall Street Journal. “A storm that maintains its strength, coming in to central New Jersey would focus the storm surge in the New York harbor area.”
Forecasters have compared the predicted weather system to the 1991 Perfect Storm, also known as the Halloween Nor’easter, which had winds blowing at 75 mph and cost more than $200 million in damages. This year’s storm will fall during a full moon, which will cause the tides to rise 20 percent higher than normal even without the storm surge.
Utility companies are preparing for the worst. In the Washington area, Pepco is gathering help from power companies in other parts of the US to gain additional assistance in the case of fallen power lines or power outages. Other companies are canceling their employees’ days off to have them available for help.
Baltimore Gas and Electric spokesman Robert Gould told the Post that he expects to see “a couple hundred thousand outages or more” when the Frankenstorm makes its appearance.
Amtrak has expressed concern that fallen trees and debris could make it difficult for trains to keep running between Washington and Boston.
As power companies, airports, rail lines and supermarkets are undergoing emergency preparations for a potentially record-breaking storm, residents of the Northeast may have to forego their Halloween plans.
“It’s looking like a very serious storm that could be historic,” Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the forecasting service Weather Underground, told the Associated Press. “Mother Nature is not saying, ‘Trick or treat.’ It’s just going to give tricks.”
‘Frankenstorm’: Hurricane Sandy to strike US after killing over 40 in Caribbean
27 October, 2012
Hurricane Sandy has swept through the Caribbean, killing at least 43 and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. As the storm advances on US shores, fears are mounting that it could merge with another weather system, creating a super-storm.
Sandy gathered speed and strength in the Caribbean Sea, tearing through the Bahamas at winds reaching up to 180 miles per hour. Cuba was hit hard by Sandy on Thursday, with at least 11 people killed and another 9 dead in Haiti.
One person was also killed in Jamaica by falling rocks after Sandy swept across the island on Wednesday.
Over 50,000 people fled their homes in Cuba as storm winds ripped roofs off buildings and tore down power lines. The US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was also hit, prompting the relocation of some prisoners to a more secure location.
Cuban authorities said that Sandy was the deadliest storm to strike the country since July 2005, when Hurricane Dennis killed 16 people and caused $2.4 billion in damage.
A man walks amid the destruction caused by hurricane Sandy in Cueto, Bayamo, 750 km east of Havana, on October 25, 2012. (AFP
A woman looks from the door of her house at the destruction caused by hurricane Sandy in Cueto, Bayamo, 750 km east of Havana, on October 25, 2012. (AFP Photo)
A storm of monstrous proportions
Sandy is due to strike the US on Friday afternoon, with experts raising concerns the storm could magnify in power and cause significant damage.
Forecasters said there is a possibility that Sandy could combine with a seasonal weather system, creating a hybrid storm that could ravage the East Coast of the US.
“The high degree of blocking from eastern North America across the entire Atlantic Basin is expected to allow this unusual merger to take place," forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center said.
Haitians travel a flooded street in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy October 25, 2012 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AFP Photo / Thony Belizaire)
The Red Cross distributes supplies to people in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy October 25, 2012 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AFP Photo / Thony Belizaire)
Firefighters help clear a flooded street, in Santo Domingo, on October 25, 2012. (AFP Photo / Erika Santelices)
Jeff Masters, a hurricane specialist with private forecaster Weather Underground wrote that Sandy could be a “billion dollar disaster” if it makes landfall along the Mid-Atlantic Coast.
"In this scenario, Sandy would be able to bring sustained winds near hurricane force over a wide stretch of heavily populated coast," he said.
With Halloween approaching in the US, the media has branded the hybrid weather system ‘Frankenstorm.’
Washington has urged residents of the East Coast to monitor forecasts and heed weather warnings from local authorities in the days ahead.