Sandy leaves death, damp and darkness in wake
A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Thousands of people were ordered to leave several nearby buildings as a precaution, including 900 guests at the ultramodern Le Parker Meridien hotel.
Alice Goldberg, 15, a tourist from Paris, was watching television in the hotel — whose slogan is ‘‘Uptown, Not Uptight’’ — when a voice came over the loudspeaker and told everyone to leave.
‘‘They said to take only what we needed, and leave the rest, because we'll come back in two or three days,’’ she said as she and hundreds of others gathered in the luggage-strewn marble lobby. ‘‘I hope so.’’
Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled again Tuesday — the first time the exchange suspended operations for two consecutive days due to weather since an 1888 blizzard struck the city.
Fire destroyed at least 50 homes Monday night in a flooded neighborhood in the Breezy Point section of the borough of Queens, where the Rockaway peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean. Firefighters told WABC-TV that they had to use a boat to rescue residents because the water was chest high on the street. About 25 people were trapped in one home, with two injuries reported.
Airlines canceled around 12,500 flights because of the storm, a number that was expected to grow.
Off North Carolina, not far from an area known as ‘‘the Graveyard of the Atlantic,’’ a replica of the 18th-century sailing ship HMS Bounty that was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie ‘‘Mutiny on the Bounty’’ sank when her diesel engine and bilge pumps failed. Coast Guard helicopters plucked 14 crew members from rubber lifeboats bobbing in 18-foot seas.
A 15th crew member who was found unresponsive several hours after the others was later pronounced dead. The Bounty’s captain was still missing.
One of the units at Indian Point, a nuclear power plant about 45 miles north of New York City, was shut down around 10:45 p.m. Monday because of external electrical grid issues, said Entergy Corp., which operates the plant. The company said there was no risk to employees or the public.
And officials declared an ‘‘unusual event’’ at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey Township, N.J., the nation’s oldest, when waters surged to 6 feet above sea level during the evening. Within two hours, the situation at the reactor — which was offline for regular maintenance — was upgraded to an alert, the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system. Oyster Creek provides 9 percent of the state’s electricity.
In Baltimore, fire officials said four unoccupied rowhouses collapsed in the storm, sending debris into the street but causing no injuries. Meanwhile, a blizzard in far western Maryland caused a pileup of tractor-trailers that blocked the westbound lanes of Interstate 68 on slippery Big Savage Mountain near the town of Finzel.
‘‘It’s like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs up here,’’ said Bill Wiltson, a Maryland State Police dispatcher.
Hundreds of miles from the storm’s center, gusts topping 60 mph prompted officials to close the port of Portland, Maine, and scaring away several cruise ships. A state of emergency in New Hampshire prompted Vice President Joe Biden to cancel a rally in Keene and Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, to call off her bus tour through the Granite State.
About 360,000 people in 30 Connecticut towns were urged to leave their homes under mandatory and voluntary evacuation orders. Christi McEldowney was among those who fled to a Fairfield shelter. She and other families brought tents for their children to play in.
‘‘There’s something about this storm,’’ she said. ‘‘I feel it deep inside.’’
Despite dire warnings and evacuation orders that began Saturday, many stayed put.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — whose own family had to move to the executive mansion after his home in Mendham, far from the storm’s center, lost power — criticized the mayor of Atlantic City for opening shelters there instead of forcing people out.
Eugenia Buono, 77, and her neighbor, Elaine DiCandio, 76, were among several dozen people who took shelter at South Kingstown High School in Narragansett, R.I. They live on Harbor Island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway.
‘‘I'm not an idiot,’’ said Buono, who survived hurricanes Carol in 1954 and Bob in 1991. ‘‘People are very foolish if they don’t leave.’’
Hays reported from New York and Breed reported from Raleigh, N.C.; AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington. Associated Press writers David Dishneau in Delaware City, Del., Katie Zezima in Atlantic City, Emery P. Dalesio in Elizabeth City, N.C., and Erika Niedowski in Cranston, R.I., also contributed.