Hurricane Sandy updates: Subway “has never faced a disaster as devastating” as yesterday: MTA CEO

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Hurricane Sandy left tens of thousands without power and millions of dollars in damages.
Hurricane Sandy left tens of thousands without power and millions of dollars in damages.

10:30 a.m.

Statement from MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota:

The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots.

As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.

10:15 p.m.

A second person has been reported dead in Queens from Hurricane Sandy, according to authorities.

Police said a woman was electrocuted at 105th Avenue and 135th Street in Richmond Hill at approximately 7:45 p.m.  Reports indicate she stepped in an electrified puddle, though police could not confirm at this time.

A man was killed earlier when a tree fell on his house in Flushing.

10 p.m.

Bloomberg updated residents on Hurricane Sandy:

- Con Ed expects outages to last at least through the morning, possible longer.

- New York University Hospital power is out along with a backup generator, patients are currently being moved.

- 9-1-1 is receiving 10,000 calls per hour, 10 times the normal rate.  The calls are overflowing their lines.  Bloomberg said that unless you are in an emergency, do not call 9-1-1, dial 3-1-1.

8:20 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Sandy has made landfall along the coast of Southern New Jersey.

7:45 p.m.

A 30-year-old man died after a tree fell on his Flushing house near 46th Avenue and 166th Street at approximately 7 p.m.  There were no other injuries reported in the incident, police said.

6:50 p.m.

About 100 firefighters are on scene as part of an 8th Avenue building has collapsed.  According to the Daily News, no injuries are being reported at the four-story, 25 unit building on 8th Avenue and 14th Streets.

5:55 p.m.

Public transportation likely to remain shutdown through tomorrow.

5:50 p.m.

The highest surge in the Rockaways, in the Battery and on Staten Island between 6:30 and 10:30 p.m., said Bloomberg. In parts of the city that are on the Long Island Sound, the peak surge will be between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

5:45 p.m.

Bloomberg asked residents to call 3-1-1 for downed trees and limbs, not 9-1-1, so the lines can remain open for emergencies.

5:30 p.m.

Mayor Bloomberg updates New Yorkers on Hurricane Sandy.

 

4:10 p.m.

The Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge will close immediately due to high winds. The George Washington, Verrazano, Marine Parkway, Whitestone, Henry Hudson and Throgs Neck bridges will close at 7 p.m.  Midtown Tunnel and RFK Bridge to remain open for now.

4 p.m.

Governor Cuomo held anothe update on Hurricane Sandy

“Storm is as expected so far,” Cuomo said. “Sandy’s fury is still coming to be coming tonight.”

The worst of the storm may begin at 6 p.m. this evening.

Cuomo announced the deployment of 1,000 National Guardsman, mostly on Long Island.

3:20 p.m.

Governor Cuomo announced the Tappan Zee Bridge will close at 4 p.m.

3:15 p.m.

Danny Ruscillo, president of the 100 Precinct Community Council, said there was flooding around manhole covers in some areas of Breezy Point and Neponsit this morning, but it seems to have subsided.

The Parks Department was still out trying to build sand barricades this afternoon. Some of the barricades, however, were destroyed by this morning’s surge, according to Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. The Parks Department has been trying to restore the damages before the next major surge.

Firefighters have been going around the peninsula to help people evacuate or get to their homes, the assemblymember said.

2:30 p.m.

All CUNY schools cancelled classes through tomorrow.  The stock market will also be closed for the second consecutive day due to the storm.

12:50 p.m.

President Barack Obama briefed the country on the storm expected to make landfall over the next couple of hours.

“This is going to be a big and powerful storm,” Obama said.

He said the fact that governors and local officials have had a couple of days of coordination has allowed municipalities to be prepared as best they can.  He also said resources will be available following the storm for areas hit hardest.

12:10 p.m.

The city will continue to run buses at public housing in Zone A for the next hour attempting to evacuate all residents before it becomes too dangerous to do so. Evacuation centers throughout the five boroughs are still accepting residents.

About 3,100 people — 73 pets —are currently in one of the centers along with about 3,000 volunteers.

The city has also increased effort to reach homeless residents on the street.

“Its just dangerous to be out on the streets when the winds are this high,” Bloomberg said.

Noon

Senator Charles Schumer is asking FEMA to expedite aid to New York.

“No question we will need the $26 million limit,” Schumer said. The senator wants the agency to skip the preliminary steps and pronounce a major disaster declaration for the area.

11:50 a.m.

Sanitation workers were out today collecting garbage and will pick up tomorrow where possible. Crews will also be attempting to clear roads of downed limbs.

11:40 a.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that city schools will remain closed tomorrow.  He said there is no chance public transportation will be running by tomorrow morning.

After-school activities and Public Schools Athletic League events will also be cancelled.

11 p.m.

Storm surges have already approached Hurricane Irene levels, said Howard Glaser, director of state operations, with Hurricane Sandy still hundreds of miles away.  The total storm surge New York saw in last year’s storm reached about nine and a half feet.  Predictions for Hurricane Sandy forecast up to an 11.7  foot surge, which would break the record 10.5 foot surge of Hurricane Donna in 1960.

Governor Andrew Cuomo spent yesterday touring the state and is confidant in New York’s preparation for the storm.

“In a cruel irony, the consistency of the exposure has helped us getting more prepared,” Cuomo said.

Despite preparation, the storm still presents great danger, he said.

“Citizens do not have to be on the road,” Cuomo said. “You do not need to be going to the beach to take pictures. Don’t be fooled by looking out the window and saying its not that bad.”

10:45 a.m.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Holland and Brooklyn-Battery tunnels will close today at 2 p.m. Bridges will remain open as of now.

9:15 a.m.

The Food Bank for New York City will continue to  to distribute food to operational soup kitchens, food pantries, senior centers and agencies in non-evacuated parts of the five boroughs.

“Food Bank For New York City is actively working to fulfill two main priorities: services to our members and services to the clients of our kitchen and pantry,” said President and CEO Margarette Purvis. “The storm takes on a whole new dimension for our network because we’re at the end of the month when many families find themselves using our programs because their resources have run out. With this in mind, maintaining services for our neediest neighbors during this time of crisis is critical. We’re also contacting our most active member agencies to determine food supply needs and are preparing to send emergency trucks as available.”

8:45 a.m.

Con Edison is reporting a power outage in Rosedale, Queens that is affecting 1,022 customers there, and is currently responding to it. To report any service loss, call ConEd at 1-800-752-6633.

8:00 a.m.

All U.S. stock and options trading will be closed on Monday because of Hurricane Sandy and may be closed on Tuesday as well. It’s the first time the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has shut down for an entire day because of weather since 1985 when Hurricane Gloria hit the city. Yesterday, sandbags  were placed in front of the NYSE in anticipation of the storm.

10:40 p.m.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a high wind warning for the area as Hurricane Sandy’s gusts are expected to pick up beginning tomorrow morning.

The warning will remain in effect from Monday at 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Sustained winds are forecasted to reach 30 to 50 mph with gusts up to 80 mph, according to the NWS.  The strongest winds are expected Monday afternoon through the night.

A significant threat to life and property exists from winds of this strength, the NWS said.

Downed limbs, trees and power lines could be widespread in this weather.

10:15 p.m.

Along with high schools and grade schools closing tomorrow, Queens colleges also cancelled classes.  Queens College, York College, Queensborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College are all closed tomorrow.

8 p.m.

President Barack Obama granted Governor Andrew Cuomo’s request for a federal emergency declaration as Hurricane Sandy is about to strike New York.

The declaration allows the state to receive assistance and resources to aid in evacuation, sheltering and other measures.

“Once again, I thank the president for his quick response to my request for a federal emergency declaration which will apply to the entire State of New York. We appreciate the federal government’s support as we continue to prepare for Hurricane Sandy,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York yesterday ahead of Hurricane Sandy.

6:30 p.m.

The Staten Island will cancel service beginning at 8 p.m. from the St. George Terminal and 8:30 p.m. from the Whitehall Terminal. East River Ferry Service is suspended through tomorrow. PATH trains will shut down at midnight.  Amtrack will cease operating northeast corridor serivce at 7 p.m. and nearly all service on the eastern seaboard on Monday, including Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Keystone and Shuttle trains.

4:30 p.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg held another press conference at 4 p.m. to update residents on preparations for Hurricane Sandy.

“If you have not yet left Zone A, please get to public transportation as soon as possible,” the mayor said.  Zone A areas must be evacuated by 7 p.m. tonight.

Buses are being sent to all public housing in Zone A to transfer residents to evacuation centers throughout the borough.

Fliers have been posted and staffers are knocking on doors and making calls to ensure residents leave NYCHA housing in the vulnerable areas.

Elevators, water and heat will begin being shut down at 7 p.m. in these buildings.

There are no plans to close bridges or tunnels at this time. the mayor said.