Cantabs 'nervous' as super storm hits

Resident banned from leaving apartment

CAROLINE KING, ANNA TURNER AND FAIRFAX NZ
Last updated 15:03 30/10/2012
Chris Carter
"STARTING TO BUILD UP": Former Cantabrian Chris Carter looked out his Newport apartment window this morning to find debris floating down the Hudson River.
Matt Greenslade
© Matt Greenslade/photo-nyc.com
BRACING FOR WORST: Matt Greenslade with his wife Shelly and their children Sophie and James. They live in Hartsdale, about 40 kilometres from Manhattan.

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LATEST: Former Cantabrian Chris Carter says wind is battering his New York apartment and waves are crashing down his street.

Sandy, one of the biggest storms ever to hit the United States, has roared ashore with fierce winds and heavy rain near Atlantic City, New Jersey, after forcing evacuations, shutting down transportation and interrupting the presidential campaign.

Carter and his wife Kara, who live on the ninth story of an apartment building in Newport, are expecting a "restless" night as the winds batter their floor to ceiling windows.

His biggest concern was the windows breaking under the pressure.

"It's pretty much at the height of the storm. It's pretty windy out there. The windows are rattling pretty hard. It's only broken the banks in the last couple of hours. The street is totally flooded now. There are pretty big waves crashing over the board walk," Carter said.

To make matters worse the river is at high tide, he said.

Carter could see "massive pylons" and large pieces of wood flowing down the Hudson River.

The power has been cutting on and off, and the couple were concerned they would lose it all together.

Carter, who has lived in New York with his wife for three years and experienced Hurricane Irene last year, said it was the worst storm he had ever experienced.

"We had Hurricane Irene last year, that was nothing compared to this. It doesn't even compare."

His wife Kara, who has lived in New York all her life, said she had never seen "anything like this".

"It's just unbelievable ... I'm not that scared because we are in a building that was built in 2007. I definitely wouldn't want to be in an old building right now," she said.

People in the apartment had been issued a curfew and were not allowed to leave the building until 1pm tomorrow, she said.

High winds and flooding racked hundreds of kilometres of Atlantic coastline while heavy snows were forecast farther inland at higher elevations as the centre of the storm marched westward.

Former Christchurch man Andrew Bradley said he was holed up in his Brooklyn apartment with "some pizza and his dog".

"It's starting to get pretty windy but there's been a big build up for the last two days so it's sort of a waiting game," he said.

"Last time we had a storm nothing really happened so we'll have to wait and see."

Bradley has lived in New York for the last five years and was unconcerned by the onslaught of the superstorm.

"New York is going to be fine. The coastal areas are getting hammered but in New York everyone is just in buildings. We're well protected. It's like people over the world think New York is ending but we're going to be fine unless the power goes out or the water gets contaminated.

"They only show you the worst bits on television."

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Forecasters said Sandy was a rare, hybrid "superstorm" created by an Arctic jet stream wrapping itself around a tropical storm.

Former Cantabrian Matt Greenslade, who lives with his family about 40km from Manhattan, said it was raining and winds had been increasing all morning.

"The trees are really being buffeted about. It comes in huge gusts,'' he said.

"Lots of sirens going this morning actually. Not many cars out.

''I saw three people out walking on our street. Madness. These trees are all tall and old and branches are going to come down."

 Greenslade had stocked up on supplies but was concerned about losing power.

"My neighbour across the road is worried about a cracked branch on his next-door neighbour's tree,'' he said.

''This branch is directly above the power lines that supply us all. If the power supply goes, it's likely to be several days before they can reconnect it.

"I have friends who had no power for four or five days last year."

Super storm moves in

Super storm Sandy has slammed into the New Jersey coastline and hurled a record-breaking four metre surge of seawater at New York, roaring ashore after washing away part of the Atlantic City boardwalk and putting the presidential campaign on hold.

At least 10 deaths were blamed on the storm.

Sandy knocked out power to at least 3.1 million people, and New York's main utility said large sections of Manhattan had been plunged into darkness by the storm, with 250,000 customers without power as water pressed into the island from three sides.

The 10 deaths were in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police in Toronto said a woman was killed by a falling sign as high winds closed in on Canada's largest city. The storm has already killed dozens as it crossed in the Caribbean as it approached the US.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says backup power has been lost at New York University hospital and the city is working to move people out.

Nineteen workers were trapped inside a Consolidated Edison power station on the east side of Manhattan by rising floodwaters, according to a Reuters witness.

A rescue worker, who declined to be named, said the station had suffered an explosion inside.

The city shut its mass transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway and ordered hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to leave home to get out of the way of the storm.

The National Hurricane Center said Sandy came ashore as a "post-tropical cyclone", meaning it still packed hurricane-force winds but lost the characteristics of a tropical storm. It had sustained winds of 129kph, well above the threshold for hurricane intensity. Sandy previously had been characterised as a hurricane.

The storm's target area includes big population centres such as New York City, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Trees were downed across the region, untethered pieces of scaffolding rolled down the ghostly streets of New York City, falling debris closed a major bridge in Boston and floodwater inundated side streets in the resort town of Dewey Beach, Delaware, leaving just the tops of mailboxes in view.

In Manhattan a four-storey apartment building partially collapsed as Sandy made its approach.

The building's facade collapsed after being hit by high winds. No one was injured in the 25-unit building, according to media reports.

In Fairfield, a Connecticut coastal town and major commuter point into Manhattan, police cruisers blocked the main road leading to the beaches and yellow police tape cordoned off side entrances.

Beach pavilions were boarded up with plywood, and gusts of wind rocked parked cars.

''People are definitely not taking this seriously enough,'' police officer Tiffany Barrett, 38, said.

''Our worst fear is something like Katrina and we can't get to people.''

- The Press

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