New York plunged into darkness, despair

2012-10-30 09:00

New York - The fury of "Frankenstorm" plunged New York into darkness, desperation and panic.

Superstorm Sandy left the Wall Street financial district and the rest of lower Manhattan without power and no firm idea when the lights will be turned on again.

The streets, many waist deep in floodwater, were eerily quiet after the storm, with the only sound coming from distant sirens and the only light cast by candles in apartment windows and the blue and red flashes of police cars.

"It's kind of scary. There is no light in the street, no people in the street," said Ilona, a 22-year-old student from Russia, as she looked out over the murky water.

Even the traffic lights were out. Special generator trucks were ordered in, and authorities reopened the George Washington bridge so some could be driven in from neighbouring New Jersey.

"We have been sent to provide power for buildings and answer the 911 emergency calls," the driver of one generator truck said.

Floating garbage

Desperate owners sought to check on businesses, apartments and cars.

Olatz Schnabel, the former companion of the artist Julian Schnabel, rushed with her two sons to check whether her decoration shop had been flooded.

"The water did not get that far. We managed to get everything out of the cellar," she said.

But there was devastation, as floodwater poured into the city from the East River, inundating road tunnels and subway stations and threatening several days of transport chaos.

On the West Side Highway, the Goldman Sachs bank was one of the few buildings still lit up, the streets and sidewalks below flooded with water.

At the 148th Street station in Harlem, a thick layer of garbage floated on the filthy water that covered the platforms. Workers stared forlornly at the devastation, hardly knowing where to start the cleanup.

"It's disgusting, and it always seems to happen here," said Ryan Gambill as he waited at the entrance.

Appeal for boats

The panic came from not knowing the final toll.

One man was confirmed dead, crushed by a falling tree in the Queens borough.

But rescue operations were launched on Staten Island, at Rockaway Beach and Coney Island, seafront districts where many residents had ignored pleas to move to safety, and where some houses were said to be flooded almost to their roofs.

Waves from the storm tore up the wooden beach boardwalk at Coney Island and nearby Brighton Beach, weekend resorts for New York's working class. Cars floated in the water at Long Beach.

Police appealed for boats to conduct rescue missions in Staten Island and at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

"I am seriously concerned for people's lives," said Vincent Ignizio, a New York City councilman from Staten Island.

- Are you there or do you know people there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

  • harley.quin.334 - 2012-10-30 09:30

    'Start spreading the news, i'm swimming today, New York New York... Sorry Frank, couldn't help myself :)

      lorain.maseko - 2012-10-30 09:56

      LMAO that's brilliant

  • cyanideandhappiness - 2012-10-30 09:35

    I just checked a ton of webcams in New York and there seems to be plenty of power there now!

      kobie.nel1 - 2012-10-30 10:10

      It is not South Africa, things get fixed if it goes down and it work.

  • hamish.drake1 - 2012-10-30 09:41

    "Despair, panic" how do you come up with this? I actually think this could be a positive, for New York especially. The floods are cleaning the city. Maybe if the residents use the "American Pride" they all claim they have, they could keep the city clean. All we need now is a flood for Jo'burg!

      arthur.hugh - 2012-10-30 10:00

      Yup seen some clips on youtube and they're not stressed at all.

      diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-30 10:31

      CBD to start with

  • lskosana3 - 2012-10-30 09:42

    Such selfishness! They refused to evacuate now they are calling 911 aggg

  • diana.gill.18 - 2012-10-30 09:49

    Oh shame a couple of days without power and they already panicking? How would it feel to survive the whole month without power and running water in a temperature of -15?

  • lskosana3 - 2012-10-30 09:50

    And why was my comment deleted?? Let's try again, those people are SELFISH for not evacuating because they are now putting the rescue worker's lives at risk!

  • thunder.clap.587 - 2012-10-30 10:18

    Dnt despair coz u haven't seen ntn as yet,this jus e beginning.

  • kirsten.a.foster.100 - 2012-10-30 10:20

    The insensitivity shown here is a true reflection of the desensitised nature of our country. I feel embarrassed at our population of ignorant trolls. My thoughts with all those suffering.

      dmitri.dumas.9 - 2012-10-30 10:27

      Are your thoughts with the orphans in Iraq and Afghanistan as well ?

      hendrikvs - 2012-10-30 10:47

      Agreed 100% Kirsten. A lot of self appointed gods writing here today! Just shows how sick our society became as a result of the corrupt system we live in.

  • irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-10-30 11:04

    While watching the events unfolding on TV, the thought kept crossing my mind "What would be happening if this was in SA". Zooomer would probably still be waiting for someone to write his speech.

  • reyhaan.hassen - 2012-10-30 11:14

    are they gonna blame al-qaida? or even bin laden...coz he was thrown into the ocean!

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-10-30 12:34

    Our thoughts and prayers with the americans.

  • marian.schaperbothma - 2012-10-31 23:26

    They have been warning about for years has come true for millions of Americans who are now sitting in the dark for 5 days, wondering why they never got prepared........

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