Sandy just like storm of '62

2012-10-29 17:15

New York - Hurricane Sandy strengthened as it turned toward the US East Coast on Monday, bringing major cities from New York to Washington to a standstill amid warnings of life-threatening storm surges.

Sandy's maximum sustained winds intensified to 140km/h overnight and at 12:00 GMT it's eye was located 420km southeast of the evacuated gambling haven of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

"One of the biggest storms of our lifetimes is unfolding right now," said anchor Kelly Cass as The Weather Channel began its fourth day of non-stop coverage.

The weather disrupted the US election campaign, with President Barack Obama cancelling an appearance in the battleground state of Florida, returning instead to the White House to steer a huge government relief effort.

With just eight days until the election, both Democrat Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are conscious of the need to stay on top of public sentiment regarding the storm, given the memory of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The handling of Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, by then president George W Bush was widely seen as bungled and the failure of authorities in the ensuing emergency response tainted his presidency.

Obama ditched plans to appear with ex-president Bill Clinton in Orlando, as families faced the prospect of damage from snapping trees, severe flooding and power outages, including in some key swing states such as Virginia.

Forecasters warned that New York Harbour and the Long Island Sound could see seawater surges of more than three metres above normal levels, coinciding with high tides due to the full moon.

State of emergency

All public schools in New York and Washington were closed and workers stayed at home as a massive public transport shutdown left the streets quiet ahead of the storm's anticipated landfall later on Monday or early Tuesday.

The 16-person crew of HMS Bounty, a replica of the three-mast vessel on which a famous mutiny took place in 1789, were forced to abandoned ship after it started to take on water.

The sailors donned cold-water survival suits and life jackets before launching in two 25-man lifeboats with canopies after getting caught up in stormy waters 144 km southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina.

Fourteen of the crew were hoisted to safety but two were still missing, the coastguard said.

Governors have declared states of emergency in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia as well as in the US capital.

New York authorities ordered the evacuation on Sunday of 375 000 people from low-lying coastal areas, while Amtrak suspended all bus and train services up and down the coast. Subway services, buses and commuter trains were also shut down in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

And the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq and the futures markets in Chicago were closed on Monday, and may stay closed on Tuesday.

Ash Wednesday storm of 1962

Almost 9 000 flights were cancelled so far as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to the information service

Obama has already signed emergency declarations to free up federal disaster funds for New York state, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

As some defiant New Yorkers stocked up on beer and laughed off evacuation orders saying they intended to ride out the storm, the National Weather Service office in neighbouring New Jersey pulled no punches.

"If you are reluctant to evacuate, and you know someone who rode out the '62 storm on the Barrier Islands, ask them if they could do it again," a bulletin said, referring to the notorious Ash Wednesday storm of 1962.

"If you are reluctant, think about your loved ones, think about the emergency responders who will be unable to reach you when you make the panicked phone call to be rescued, think about the rescue/recovery teams who will rescue you if you are injured or recover your remains if you do not survive."

On Sunday, before hunkering down, fearful residents from Washington to New York to Boston queued for emergency provisions like bottled water and batteries in long lines that stretched out the doors of supermarkets.

  • forsythe.p.jones.5 - 2012-10-29 17:37

    wow, pretty scary. hope they prepare well and the casualties are kept as low as possible.

      slick.hounder - 2012-10-29 17:53

      Only Mother Nature will decide what casualties there will be. Whether Human and or otherwise and there is nothing anyone can do about that!

  • slick.hounder - 2012-10-29 17:51

    As is said if not already known. Hell knoweth NO fury, as that of Mother Nature Scorned. Call it retribution for all the harm US humans, that's ALL of US, not merely American Folks, are bringing upon the planet.

  • stanton.clarke - 2012-10-29 17:54

    My wife's name is Sandy. She is the exact opposite. Gentle and in the business of saving lives.:)

  • moriri.mosweu - 2012-10-29 18:12

    They better vote for the man of God Obama or else their America will be put under a sea of water.

      kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-10-29 18:24

      Man of God Obama that legalizes the murder of millions of unborn babies? I think not!

      sheik.mohammad.378 - 2012-10-29 18:55

      Kobus what are you rambling about. As far as unborn babies go...... it is easy to talk from the back seat. Those of you who sit and cast stone should put their money where their mouths are. Should be made a legal requirement that those who want to save them must pay for their upkeep. Bet then you wouldn't be so quick. I'm pro-choice... bet you guessed that.

      jaded.oldfart - 2012-10-29 19:28

      @kobus: at least he's not one of those men of god who accept molestation of children.

      james.keen.944 - 2012-10-29 20:49

      Kobus, lay off the crack

  • msturmair - 2012-10-29 18:56

    thoughts and prayers are with u all.....:)

  • ray.molekoa.5 - 2012-10-29 22:02

    America , home of the free ! GOD BE WITH YOU GOOD PEOPLE ! I am praying for you my FAVORITE nation !

  • joseph.mantsoe - 2012-10-30 05:01

    What if that storm-Hurricane Sandy was here to destroy Mzantsi, Comrade Zuma will be the first one to dotch along with his wives and his own development tycoons(Sons n daughters).

  • Deon Pereira - 2012-10-30 06:22

    the comments i read here and u say Obama is a man of God...u guys make me laugh..

  • Aslam Farouk - 2012-10-30 06:23

    Da sins of all those dat control america, some good innocent american ppl get 2 suffer,Its just Gods way of showing america dat they are r not in control of everything as they think so

  • washington.munjangasinyorowekurema - 2012-10-30 08:27

    Africa may have its diseases and wars but the grace of God is upon us - we do not have these natural disasters. Our woes are man-made and can be resolved with time but these hurricanes eish!! is the American nightmare as opposed to the American dream.

  • alvzgovender - 2012-10-30 12:00

    i found it very ironic that CNN had a lady reporter named Sandy reporting on Tropical Storm Sandy. Was the reporter for Hurricane Katrina also named Katrina?? LOL

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