On the East Coast of the U.S., Hurricane Sandy has destroyed buildings, flooded streets and cut power to parts of the nation’s most densely populated regions. Sandy has claimed more than 50 lives and counting in the U.S. – most killed by falling trees.
Sandy was birthed in the Atlantic and packed a punch to the Caribbean, killing nearly 70 people, and strengthened into a hurricane as it raced across the southeastern coast of the United States.
By the night of Oct. 30, it had ebbed in strength but was joining up with another, wintrier storm, an occurrence that earned it nicknames like “superstorm” and on Halloween eve, “Frankenstorm.”
More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly 2.1 million of those were in New York, where the storm hit in Lower Manhattan and put entire streets underwater. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn were flooded at one point.
A fire also ripped through 100 houses in a flooded section of Queens. There were 25 storm-related deaths in New York, with 18 of them in New York City.
In New Jersey, the center of the storm hit the shore Oct. 29 near Atlantic City, stranding residents who ignored warnings to evacuate the area. The storm wiped out the famous Atlantic City boardwalk. There were six deaths and 2.1 million without power.
The Long Island Sound in Connecticut saw flooded roads as the storm toppled trees and power lines. Three people died, including a man last seen swimming in heavy surf.
Parts of western North Carolina were under a winter storm warning, where a foot of snow had fallen in higher elevations. A woman who was pulled from the Atlantic after abandoning a tall ship was among two dead.
In Pennsylvania, high winds and flooding occurred, closing more than 200 bridges and roads. Seven people died, including an 8-year-old boy who was killed when a tree limb fell on him.
Here in Michigan, cargo shipping on the Great Lakes was put on hold because of waves of up to 33 feet. More than 150,000 Michiganders were without power due to Superstorm Sandy. At Eastern Michigan University, students and staff endured the chilling winds, low temperatures and rain showers.
One professor at EMU was very much affected by the storm. Professor of musical theatre Phil Simmons said his main residency is in New York City, one of the cities majorly affected by Sandy.
“I still have my apartment in New York. It’s in Midtown, on 36 Street. Right now everything below 34 Street has no power. My partner still lives in our apartment. Everything is good and we still have power,” Simmons said.
Simmons also expressed concern for his family and friends in the area.
“It was a little scary when I couldn’t get through to them … They all saw I was trying to reach them and they all got back to me, so I knew they were okay and it was a big relief. There were a few hours where I was like ‘I wish they would call me back,’ you know. Everyone I know and love is all good. They may not all have power, but they prepared,” he said.
Some students at EMU are also a bit worried about those affected because of Hurricane Sandy. Sam Eccles, a freshman at EMU, has a friend who lives in Rochester, N.Y.
“I’ve had a hard time reaching my friend, but when I have, she told me her front yard looks like a lake and her basement is flooded,” Eccles said.
EMU professor of macroeconomics and international finance Mike Vogt has a son and daughter-in-law who live in Virginia. His son works in Washington D.C. and has been forced to work at home. His son’s wife is a teacher and can’t work because the schools are closed until the storm calms. They still have power and they are well.
Vogt believes the U.S. economy will be fine as long as everything starts running again soon.
“People won’t be working for a couple days or weeks. For people who are low income, it’s going to be terrible. For people who are higher income, it won’t be as bad. It’s the people who are losing income they can’t afford to lose,” Vogt said.
Superstorm Sandy has also become a focus for both presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan first announced they were canceling events out of “sensitivity” for the millions of Americans affected by Sandy. With only a week left to try to toss Obama from office, the GOP campaign decided to be back to work Oct. 30, with events in the critical Midwestern swing states of Ohio and Iowa.
According to the Associated Press, Romney was holding a storm relief event in Kettering, Ohio at the same arena as his previously scheduled political rally and with the same celebrity line-up: NASCAR driver Richard Petty and country music singer Randy Owen. The event was moved up by four hours and aides said the tone would be changed, with no attacks on the president back at the White House overseeing the response.
Obama was updated throughout the night as Sandy progressed in the U.S. He spoke with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and issued major disaster declarations for both states.
Christie, a Republican campaigning for Romney, praised Obama’s leadership.
“Cooperation from the president of the United States has been outstanding,” Christie told CBS This Morning. ‘’He deserves great credit.”
Obama also spoke with the mayors of New York, Jersey City and Newark and provided additional federal assistance for local efforts. He planned an additional call Oct. 30 with affected mayors and governors.
Some election centers in the affected states were shut down, but early voting continued in areas outside Sandy’s path. Obama had a day of campaigning in Ohio scheduled for today and had planned to stay on track through next Tuesday’s Election Day.
Simmons said the conditions won’t stop residents of New York from voting.
“It might affect us, but for New Yorkers? No, I don’t think it will affect them, because they are now so galvanized by all the disasters in the last decade. It’s going to make them mad, so they’re going to vote no matter what,” he said.
Simmons did express concern for how the storm might affect voting outside of New York.
“I’m afraid. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen with outlying areas. On the news this morning, they were talking about pitching the idea to different states of delaying [the election],” he said. “I just don’t know how it’s going to work. We’re talking about 8 million people without electricity. I don’t think any of these places are going to have electricity before the election. It’s a genuine concern and I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen.”
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