Effects of Hurricane Sandy in New York
|Category 1 hurricane (SSHWS)|
Satellite image of Sandy near landfall
|Highest winds||1-minute sustained:
80 mph (130 km/h)
100 mph (155 km/h)
|Damage||$32 billion (2012 USD)
(Estimated damage total)
|Areas affected||New York, especially the New York metropolitan area|
|Part of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season|
|Part of a series on Hurricane Sandy|
New York was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, particularly New York City, its suburbs, and Long Island. Sandy's impacts included the flooding of the New York City Subway system, many suburban communities, and all road tunnels entering Manhattan except the Lincoln Tunnel, and the closure of the New York Stock Exchange for two consecutive days. Numerous homes and businesses were destroyed by fire, including over 100 homes in Breezy Point, Queens. Large parts of the city and surrounding areas lost electricity for several days, and several thousand people in midtown Manhattan were evacuated for six days due to the crane collapse at One57. Bellevue Hospital Center and a few other large hospitals were closed and evacuated. At least 53 people died in New York as a result of the storm. Thousands of homes and an estimated 250,000 vehicles were destroyed during the storm. Economic losses across New York were estimated to be at least $18 billion.
- 1 Preparations
- 2 Impact
- 3 Evacuations and rescues after the storm began
- 4 Damage
- 5 Looting
- 6 References
- 7 External links
On October 28, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for every county in the state. He also asked for a pre-disaster declaration to better access federal assistance. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano ordered voluntary evacuations of the South Shore storm surge area, which includes the area south of Sunrise Highway, as well as the North Shore's areas north of Route 25A and in elevations 15 feet above sea level or less. Shelters were opened at Levittown Memorial High School, Locust Valley High School, Nassau Community College and SUNY Old Westbury. In Suffolk County, officials ordered mandatory evacuations for residents of Fire Island and in surge zone areas in Babylon, Brookhaven, Islip, Riverhead, Southampton and Southold. Shelters were opened at Hampton Bays High School, Sachem East High School, and the Brentwood High School Sonderling Building. Most schools closed in Nassau and Suffolk counties on October 29, including Adelphi University, Hofstra University, Molloy College, Nassau Community College and Stony Brook University.
On October 28, President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for the state of New York. The Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Rail Road suspended service beginning 7 p.m. October 27 through October 29 and possibly October 30. Starbucks closed all of its outlets in the city and Long Island on October 28 at 4 p.m. to let employees get home before the transit system shut down. The stores remained closed on October 29. The Tappan Zee Bridge was closed October 29 at 4 p.m. EDT due to wind conditions.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters on October 26 that the city had begun taking precautions but said at that time there was no call for mandatory evacuations and no plans to suspend the city's mass transit or cancel school. But on October 28, Governor Cuomo ordered the MTA, including the subway, closed and in a press conference immediately after Cuomo's announcement, Mayor Bloomberg ordered public schools closed on October 29. He ordered mandatory evacuations for Zone A which includes the southern tip of Manhattan, the Coney Island-Brighton Beach and Red Hook areas of Brooklyn, the entire Rockaways peninsula, much of Staten Island, City Island, and part of the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx. On October 28, officials activated the city's coastal emergency plan, with subway closings and the evacuation of residents in areas hit during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. More than 76 evacuation shelters were open around the city.
The MTA announced that all subway, bus and commuter rail service would be suspended, beginning at 7 p.m. EDT on October 28 and expected to continue suspension through at least October 30. All PATH train service and stations were shut down at 12:01 a.m. October 29. 200 National Guard troops were deployed in the city. All bus carriers at the Port Authority Bus Terminal closed at 3 a.m. October 29. U.S. stock trading was suspended for October 29 and October 30. It was the first two-day weather closure since the Great Blizzard of 1888. All state courts were closed October 29, except for arraignments and emergency applications. NYU Langone Medical Center cancelled all surgeries and medical procedures, except for emergency procedures.
On October 27, Google postponed their planned Android event in New York City due to the storm. The Staten Island Ferry and East River Ferry services were suspended at least through October 29. Most bridges and tunnels closed. Major carriers cancelled all flights into and out of JFK, LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty airports until it is safe to fly. Broadway cancelled all October 28 evening and October 29 performances. Alternate-side parking and parking meter regulations were suspended on October 29. Grand Central Terminal, Central Park and Battery Park were closed on October 29. The Holland Tunnel and the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel closed at 2 p.m. EDT on October 29. The Tappan Zee Bridge was closed later on that day.
While moving ashore in New Jersey, the northern and eastern sides of Sandy were characterized with light, sporadic rainfall, but strong winds. Precipitation in New York reached 3.42 in (87 mm) in Sherman, in the extreme western portion of the state. The highest recorded wind gust in New York was 90 miles per hour (140 km/h) at Islip. Supplemented by spring tide, the storm surge was approximately 14 feet above Mean Low Water, flooding many tunnels and damaging electrical equipment. The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane was similarly powerful but struck at low tide and thus caused less flooding.
United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius declared a public health emergency October 31 for New York.
During a news conference on November 1, Mayor Bloomberg announced:
- The majority of City parks and playgrounds will open by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, November 3.
- Beginning at 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, November 1, the city will distribute bottles of water and prepared meals at distribution centers around the city, including sites in Coney Island, the Rockaways, and parts of Staten Island. Residents will be allowed to take three meals and five bottles of water at a time. "Bring your own bag," the mayor said.
- AT&T will bring in pods to provide cell service and charging stations near food centers.
- Four-hundred members of the National Guard will be going door-to-door delivering meals and supplies to elderly and home-bound residents.
Time Warner Cable donated $500,000 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, and $50,000 each to the Red Cross of Northeastern New York and the Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. They also sent out vehicles with mobile charging stations and free WiFi access points, as well as opened all its WiFi spots in the city.
On November 2, the state of New York created a $100 million fund to help people hit hardest.
Five emergency mobile gas stations were deployed by the military on Saturday November 3, offering 10 free gallons per person.
Thousands of runners who came to the city to run the New York City Marathon met in Central Park on November 4; due to the marathon's being called off, many went to Staten Island to help storm victims.
On November 7, Governor Cuomo fired Steven Kuhr, the head of the New York Office of Emergency Management, after Cuomo discovered Kuhr had sent Suffolk County workers to clear a tree in his Long Island driveway as other victims needed help.
On November 8, Governor Cuomo said estimated of storm damage is $33 billion for New York State.
New York City and the counties of Nassau and Suffolk imposed "odd-even" gasoline rationing, as New Jersey had, to ease congestion and frustration at filling stations. The system began on November 9 in the wake of a shortage. The Governor also temporarily waived certain taxes and pollution restrictions on fuel deliveries.
New York City schools remained closed through Friday, November 2 with classes resuming Monday for most students; but as many as 40,000 stayed home until November 7. 57 schools were still flooded as of that date. Many colleges and universities and k-12 schools in the tri-state area also cancelled classes.
The Statue of Liberty was closed October 29, a day after its grand reopening. Both the statue and Ellis Island remained closed through 2012; the statue reopened July 4, 2013, while Ellis Island remains closed until 2014.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation closed all state parks on Long Island until further notice, due to downed trees, dangling branches, beach erosion, and damaged boardwalks. A full list of the parks affected can be viewed by going to the reference for this paragraph.
On November 1, CBS News reported the 76 shelters opened initially were being consolidated down to 15.
On November 6, John Jay High School in Brooklyn, being used as a shelter for Sandy victims, was shut down after about a dozen storm refugees came down with a stomach virus. Mayor Bloomberg said the school would be closed November 7 instead of opening for classes as scheduled, so it could be cleaned and then reopened.
On June 25, 2013, the medical examiner's office for New York City said that man's body that was found in Queens in April had drowned due to Sandy, and was the 44th death citywide.
All New York City Subway service and ferry service was disrupted for days, as were most major automobile tunnels and bridges. The three major airports (JFK, LaGuardia (LGA), and Newark-Liberty (EWR)) were also closed.
Waterways and services
The George Washington Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Verrazano Bridge, and Whitestone Bridge closed at 7 p.m. EDT October 29. All road tunnels into Manhattan, except the Lincoln Tunnel, were flooded and remain closed. Subway tunnels under the East River were flooded; the system will remain mostly closed. Due to damage and flooding, PATH subway service will be closed until further notice. Limited bus service resumed Tuesday evening, Oct 30. Limited MTA subway service was scheduled to resume on November 1 with two East River tunnels (59th Street and 63rd Street) in operation and shuttle bus service to Manhattan from Brooklyn termini; many lines remain closed and there is no service below 34th Street in Manhattan due to the continued lack of electricity to the area. The Long Island Railroad remained closed due to storm damage until November 8, 2012. The LIRR then re-opened with partial service to most of its branches, excluding Long Beach.
As of October 31, 2012[update]:
- MTA bus service began operating on a regular schedule. The subway system was tested with plans to resume limited service to 14 of the 23 services on November 1.
- PATH services remained suspended.
- The Long Island Rail Road resumed limited, hourly service.
- Metro-North restored hourly service on its Harlem Line between North White Plains and Grand Central Terminal. The Hudson and New Haven Line continue to be suspended.
- All bridges and tunnels were open except the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.
- Amtrak provides modified Northeast Regional service between Boston and New Haven, Connecticut and between Newark, New Jersey and points south on Thursday, November 1. Amtrak will also operate Shuttle service trains between Springfield, Massachusetts and New Haven, Keystone Service trains between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia and Downeaster service trains between Boston and Portland, Maine, along with additional overnight services to and from the Northeast on Friday, November 2, with schedules to be announced that day. There will be no Northeast Regional service between Newark Penn Station and New Haven and no Acela Express service for the length of the Northeast Corridor on Thursday.
- The Port Authority Bus Terminal reopens with no Greyhound Lines service or commuter buses to New Jersey.
Governor Cuomo waived fares on MTA commuter rails, subways and buses through November 5.
On the morning of November 1, the first train, an A train, pulled out of Penn Station three days after tunnels were flooded. Subway service in Lower Manhattan except for the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and to Brooklyn was disconnected. The G train, which runs a crosstown route between Queens and Brooklyn, Rockaway Park Shuttle, and part-time B, C, and Z trains were also suspended.
The Hugh L. Carey-Brooklyn Battery Tunnel opened November 12 to limited rush-hour bus service. Express buses run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from Brooklyn and Staten Island will use one lane of one tube to enter Manhattan from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST and to leave Manhattan on 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST and will stay closed at other times for repairs.
The MTA announced January 17, 2013, that fixing all damage on the South Ferry subway station would take up to June 2016 at the earliest.
Airports and airlines
Delta Air Lines cancelled all flights out of LaGuardia Airport through Tuesday, October 30 at 8 p.m. EDT. The three major airports serving New York City, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark, were closed as of 8 p.m. on October 29.
More than 8,000 flights were cancelled by 4 p.m. EDT for the day of October 30. LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty led with a total of 2,400. As of early morning October 31, nearly 3,000 flights have already been cancelled. Newark Liberty airport is to reopen at 3 p.m. EDT and JFK airport at around noon EDT on October 31. LaGuardia is likely to remain closed until November 1.
The hurricane damaged many homes beyond habitability. Governor Cuomo worked closely with President Barack Obama and with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, which was even more hard-hit, to come to their aid. Cuomo allowed New York voters, via a specific provision aimed at accommodating those displaced, to cast provisional ballots for the 2012 election anywhere in New York state. "Just because you're displaced doesn't mean you should be disenfranchised.", Cuomo said. He also appointed a commission to examine the responses of New York utilities to damage caused by the storm. The Cuomo administration used $140 million of these funds, which had been intended to help lower the energy costs of residents affected by the damage, in order to pay for the broadcast of national TV ads promoting his "New New York" slogans, outside of New York. Many have been critical of the effort, including former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who called the ads "fluff" and "a waste of taxpayer money".
After many complaints that running the race through affected areas would seem insensitive and would put further pressure on police and other service workers who would be better deployed in the recovery efforts, Mayor Bloomberg announced late afternoon November 2 that the New York City Marathon had been cancelled. The event was to take place on Sunday, November 4. Marathon officials said that it will not be rescheduled.
The opening game at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn between the National Basketball Association's Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks originally scheduled to take place on November 1 was rescheduled for November 26.
The soccer game between the Red Bull New York and DC United in the 2012 Major League Soccer playoffs, scheduled for November 3, was moved to November 7, due to a power outage at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Evacuations and rescues after the storm began
New York University Langone Medical Center was evacuated October 29 after the backup generators at the hospital failed due to flooding. Over 200 patients were safely transferred to other hospitals. Bellevue Hospital Center (about 500 patients), Coney Island Hospital, and Palisades Medical Center are additional New York City area hospitals which have been either partially or fully evacuated.
The Emergency Medical Services of New York City faced a series of challenges and setbacks during the storm relating to the flooding, closure, and evacuation of hospitals and FDNY-EMS Stations across the city. Downtown Hospital was closed in preparation for the storm, but several hospitals were forced to close during the storm, including Bellevue Hospital, NYU Hospital, Manhattan VA Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital, Coney Island Hospital, and St. Johns Hospital. A fire broke out on the fourth floor of Coney Island Hospital, which proved difficult for Fire and EMS resources to gain access to due to flooding, high winds, and downed wires. Four out of five FDNY-EMS Stations in Manhattan were evacuated during the storm as flooding began to surround stations in low-lying areas, including EMS Station 4 (South Street, location of Division 1 Headquarters which was moved to Downtown Brooklyn during the storm), Station 7 (Chelsea), Station 8 (Bellevue), and Station 10 (Spanish Harlem/Metropolitan Hospital). Station 16, located at Harlem Hospital, did not have to evacuate.
In Suffolk County and on Fire Island, numerous people – and at a Massapequa home, the dozen firefighters who sought to rescue the home's two residents – were rescued by emergency crews via front-end loaders and "high axle" vehicles.
On October 30, Helicopter 23's rescue crew airlifted five adults and a child from the roof of a Staten Island house which was nearly submerged by flooding waters. The helicopter's name honors the 23 New York City police officers who lost their lives on 9/11.
On November 6, some of the state's residents that had been evacuated for Sandy were evacuated a second time due to a nor'easter that was expected to bring high winds, rain and possible snow to areas of New York.
On November 26, Governor Cuomo said Sandy cost the state $32 billion in damage and loss. Mayor Bloomberg announced earlier in the day that the storm caused $19 billion in losses in New York City, which was included in the estimate Cuomo gave.
As of the morning of November 1, Con Ed had restored two power networks, but there were still more than 600,000 customers without power throughout the five boroughs. Con Ed predicted most all of Manhattan would be fully restored by November 3.
In the afternoon of November 1, Con Ed said it expected to "restore the vast majority of customers who lost power by the weekend of Nov. 10 and 11. The remaining customer restorations could take an additional week more."
As of the morning of November 2, more than 1.3 million customers were without power, down from 2.2 million. As of 5:00 a.m. EDT (0900 GMT) on that date Con Edison said about 226,000 customers lacked service in Manhattan, 84,000 in Queens, 35,000 in Brooklyn, 54,000 in Staten Island 31,000 in the Bronx and 140,000 in Westchester.
As of 2 p.m EDT November 2, 1,252,768 New Yorkers were without power.
As of 4 a.m. Saturday, November 3, Con Ed reported about:
- 94,769 customer outages in Manhattan
- 81,372 customer outages in Queens
- 37,504 customer outages in Staten Island
- 31,448 customer outages in Brooklyn
- 26,252 customer outages in the Bronx
During the evening of November 3, Con Ed announced all Manhattan power networks were back online. Approximately 153,000 Con Ed customers were without power as of 8 p.m. November 3:
- 9,211 customer outages in Manhattan
- 74,067 customer outages in Queens
- 27,842 customer outages in Staten Island
- 24,707 customer outages in Brooklyn
- 19,501 customer outages in the Bronx
As of around noon November 5, Con Ed reported those without electricity were:
- 3,825 customer outages in Manhattan
- 38,397 customer outages in Queens
- 17,465 customer outages in Staten Island
- 22,887 customer outages in Brooklyn
- 8,282 customer outages in the Bronx
On October 30, over 190 firefighters fought a six alarm fire that destroyed 111 structures and damaged another 20 in Breezy Point, Queens as a result of the storm. The area had been under evacuation orders, but some residents rode out the storm. One firefighter and two residents were injured. The rescuers were in chest-deep water and had to use a boat to reach survivors. A transformer explosion is suspected to have caused the fire. On October 31, Breezy Point residents pledged to rebuild their community.
On November 2, Mayor Bloomberg announced the water in Breezy Point, Queens was not safe to drink or boil. Residents were urged only use bottled water at the time. The rest of the city's tap supply is safe for drinking.
According to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, the many fires were sparked by "Trees coming down on wires, transformers blowing up and the wires going into the water". One home in West Babylon and another in Lindenhurst "wouldn't stop burning" and had to be knocked down with payloaders.
Heavy winds caused a construction crane atop One57 to collapse, causing the area to be evacuated on October 29. The crane was secured to the building Saturday, November 3 and West 57th Street reopened to traffic that evening.
Space Shuttle Enterprise, on board the flight deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in the Hudson River, was damaged. The inflatable structure the shuttle is in appears to have first deflated and then been torn by the high winds.
The storm damaged, destroyed, or severely flooded around 100,000 homes on Long Island. As of 10 December 2012[update], more than 2,000 homes were deemed uninhabitable with the total expected to go up.
Mayor Bloomberg stated November 3, there are 55,000 buildings in Zone A that were ordered to evacuate and must be inspected. So far 8,500 have been and about 80% of those buildings are safe.
Damaged structures included community centers in South Brooklyn. The offices of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, as well as a senior home run by the organization, were affected. The Old Orchard Shoal Light in New York Harbor was destroyed by the hurricane.
Looters and burglars were arrested in Coney Island, the Rockaways, and other parts of New York City and Long Island which had been evacuated or damaged by the storm. Some posed as Con Ed workers to fool their victims; some other, would-be-looters posed as rescue workers. On 2 November, CBSNewYork reported: "On Long Island, looting has become such a problem on the south shore in the wake of superstorm Sandy that state police are on patrol." In addition to the looting of homes and stores, Newsday and News12 Long Island have reported armed robberies, criminal siphoning of gasoline out of vehicle gas tanks, and thefts of generators. Some New Yorkers ignored advisements to evacuate in advance of the nor'easter of November 7–8, in favor of protecting their property, and some thefts have been averted by residents (some armed) who surprised those who had broken into their homes, by the National Guard, and by neighborhood watch groups.
Shortly after 2:30 AM on Thursday, November 1, 35-year-old motorist Sean Bailey of St. Albans was arrested on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon after he tried to cut in line at a Mobil station on the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 43rd Street in Queens and pointed a pistol at another motorist who complained. Also "in Brooklyn, tempers flared outside a Getty station, with drivers getting out of their cars and exchanging angry words", reports Fox News. Fox News further reported that gasoline, in heavy demand for both vehicles and home generators, had become scarce and frustration with fuel 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." As of November 6, police reported 41 arrests in New York City stemming from fights at gas lines. The previous day, Jared Giacolone was arrested after he pulled a knife on a BP station employee in East Setauket, when he was told they were out of high-octane gas; the Stony Brook, Long Island teen was charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.
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