October 30, 2012 — An estimated 7.5 million people lost power October 30 as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast, according to the Washington Post.
In all, Hurricane Sandy has affected more than half the states of the Union, including the District of Columbia. An estimated 60 million people, or 1 in 6 U.S. citizens have been impacted in one way or another by the storm. The effects of the storm could last into next week at least.
According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, almost 2 million in New York State are without power. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in New York City and Long Island. About 900,000 are without power in Long Island, which was hit with storm surges and high sustained winds.
Con Edison, early on in the storm’s impact, attempted to prevent damage to the grid by shutting down power systematically to select areas of Manhattan. As the storm rolled on, however, transformer and substation explosions were reported, lines were knocked down and utility equipment was damaged by the fallout of the storm. Some high-rise buildings remained lit by generators, only to join the rest of the darkened skyline of New York City as gas-powered generators were swamped by floodwaters.
Power failures affected New York University’s Langone Medical Center, prompting the evacuation of some 215 patients. A fire is destroying buildings in a residential area of Queens.
An estimated 13,000 individual flights were canceled and 3 major airports are shut down entirely, according to the New York Times.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie called the financial damages of the storm “incalculable,” but published estimates have ranged from as low as $7 billion to as much as a quarter-trillion dollars. The affected New Jersey counties are Atlantic, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union.
At the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant near Toms River, New Jersey, all reactors were already offline as part of scheduled maintenance by the time the storm hit. The plant declared an alert at 8:45 p.m. as waters rose six feet higher than normal. A spokesman from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said high waters could make it harder for plant operators to keep spent fuel pools cooled.
The plant was considering using fire hoses to pump in cooling water to make up for evaporation, officials said, as plant staff could no longer pull water out of Barnegat Bay and circulate it through a heat exchanger to keep the spent fuel pools cool.
Another nuclear power plant in Waterford, Conn., Millstone 3, has lowered its power output to 75 percent.
In Moonachie, N.J., a natural berm was breached by floodwaters, forcing an evacuation.
In Connecticut, Gov. Daniel Malloy said two people were missing in the storm. A firefighter and a civilian also died.
By 5 a.m. October 30, Sandy became a post-tropical cyclone and sent gale-force winds through Pennsylvania.
In Connecticut, Long Island Sound floodwaters covered roads and broke power lines. Two deaths were reported, as well as power outages of more than 475,000, according to CBS News.
About 300,000 power outages were reported in Massachusetts, and mandatory evacuations were ordered in coastal communities.
In Delaware, beach communities around Rehoboth and Dewey beaches were evacuated and more than 45,000 power outages were reported.
Winter storms hit Kentucky and West Virginia, as predicted. These blizzard conditions are accompanied by winds as high as 50 miles per hours — strong enough to snap power lines. A freeze warning has also been issued to all of Tennessee.
In Maine, the ports of Portland were closed to all marine traffic and about 87,000 power outages were reported. Rain and gusty wind will continue in Maine as the storm moves into Canada.
Maryland saw some of the storm’s heaviest rains, and snow is causing traffic snarls. Officials in Maryland said Hurricane Sandy could have caused more damage than Hurricane Gloria in 1985 or Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
About 149,000 outages were reported in New Hampshire, about 215,000 in Ohio, 200,000 in West Virginia, 131,000 in Virginia, 116,000 in Rhode Island and 8,500 in Vermont. Federal offices in Washington, D.C. will be shut down for the second say in a row.