Hurricane Sandy bore down on America’s East Coast while we were sleeping last night, hitting New York and Manhattan, large parts of New Jersey and floods and damage as far as Buffalo City. Its one of the largest storms seen this decade since Hurricane Katrina, although the scale of the devastation and damage has yet to be determined. Generally, locals were forwarned and ready for the storm, boarding up houses, blocking off entrances to subways and evacuating people in areas that would be hardest hit. The presidentiual elections have been halted for a minimum of 48 hours and that postponement may even last a full week as several states are unable to get voting venues up on time. Several parts of New York are deserted and subways have to be given the all-clear before anything starts again, which might take longer than the rather optimistic estimate of two weeks. Lower Manhattan is experiencing water levels of two metres or more and many homes, cars, schools and buildings have been damaged, some irreparably.
Sandy first ripped through Cuba and the surrounding Caribbean Islands and devastated entire cities and settlements. Authorities estimate at least 69 people have died in six countries, with Haiti home to 52 of those that have passed and over 200,000 homes destroyed or washed away on the coast. Cuba reports 11 people dead and over 150,000 homes, buildings and malls damaged from the storm, as well as many cars and motorcycles washed away or destroyed. The damage total on America will be calculated this week, although they have been luckier due to the better infrastructure and the government’s quick response to the coming storm.
Planes have been grounded and other forms of land transport are on halt while authorities make sure roads are safe. For some locations that have seen severe flooding, locals have been evacuated and may not be able to return to their homes for a while. The storm has now begun to break up, but it will be a while before normality resumes.