Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

October 30, 2012

Sandy's death toll climbs; millions without power

(Continued)

A huge fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens on Tuesday, forcing firefighters to undertake daring rescues. Three people were injured.

A downtown hospital, New York University's Tisch, evacuated 200 patients after its backup generator failed. About 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit were carried down staircases and on battery-powered respirators.

And a construction crane that collapsed in the high winds on Monday still dangled precariously 74 floors above the streets of midtown Manhattan. And on Staten Island, a tanker ship wound up beached on the shore.

With water standing in two major commuter tunnels and seven subway tunnels under the East River, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was unclear when the nation's largest transit system would be rolling again. It shut down Sunday night ahead of the storm.

Joseph Lhota, chairman of the regional Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said the damage was the worst in the 108-year history of the New York subway.

The saltwater surge inundated subway signals, switches and electrified third rails and covered tracks with sludge. Workers began pumping the water out and will ultimately have to walk all of the hundreds of miles of track to inspect it.

Millions of more fortunate New Yorkers surveyed damage as dawn broke, their city brought to an extraordinary standstill.

"Oh, Jesus. Oh, no," Faye Schwartz said she looked over damage in neighborhood in Brooklyn, where cars were scattered like leaves.

Reggie Thomas, a maintenance supervisor at a prison near the overflowing Hudson River, emerged from an overnight shift there, a toothbrush in his front pocket, to find his Honda with its windows down and a foot of water inside. The windows automatically go down when the car is submerged to free drivers.

"It's totaled," Thomas said with a shrug. "You would have needed a boat last night."

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