As tens of millions of Americans on the Eastern Seaboard braced themselves Monday night for the onslaught of hurricane Sandy, some Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were not spared from what was dubbed a “superstorm.”
Lorelei Woolridge, of St. John’s, and her family were in the New York area where her daughter, Julie, is a college athlete.
Woolridge was due to fly home today and was trying to decide Monday morning whether it was best to stay put in a hotel or hit the road in a rental car for Toronto or Montreal.
“I could be in a car in a worse situation. Also, getting out of those cities could be an issue due to the impending weather there and/or the flights not getting into
St. John's,” Woolridge said via online messaging.
She described the mood in the area as “a bit of panic,” leading up to the storm, but the family managed to get candles, lighters and water. Stores have been out of flashlights for a few days.
Woolridge and her family eventually decided to make a break for Toronto in their car.
Meanwhile, Sheila Pomeroy, originally from Placentia but living in Manhattan, was hunkered down in her apartment for the night to wait out the storm.
She said her neighbourhood was pretty calm leading up to the evening’s strongest weather. Windows were boarded up, but most businesses were still open.
Pomeroy’s building is several blocks from the water so she wasn’t too concerned at the prospect of flooding, but she was within sight of an elevated construction crane that broke in two; that image was used heavily by international media to illustrate the effects of the storm.
The Telegram spoke with her just before the worst of the weather was scheduled to hit, but until that point it just looked like any rainstorm, she said.
That wasn’t the case at the same time in Toronto, where police said a woman was killed by a falling sign as high winds from the post-tropical storm whipped the city.
A police spokesman said winds were about 65 kilometres per hour in the area at the time the woman was hit by flying debris while walking along a west-end street.
He said he didn’t have more information as investigators were still on the scene.
Officials have warned residents in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes to prepare, though the east coast of the United States will bear the brunt of the unusually large storm.
The superstorm hurled a record-breaking four-metre surge of seawater at New York City Monday night, roaring ashore after washing away part of the Atlantic City boardwalk and putting the presidential campaign on hold.
Just before its centre reached land, the storm was stripped of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it remained every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path.
The National Hurricane Center announ-ced at 8 p.m. Sandy had come ashore near Atlantic City. The sea surged a record of nearly four metres at the foot of Manhattan.
In an attempt to lessen damage from the storm, New York City’s main utility cut power to about 6,500 customers in lower Manhattan. Authorities worried that seawater would seep into the New York subway and cripple it, along with the electrical and communications systems that are vital to the nation’s financial centre.
As it closed in, Sandy knocked out electricity to more than 1.5 million people and figured to upend life for tens of millions more. It smacked the boarded-up big cities of the Northeast corridor, from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, New York and Boston, with stinging rain and gusts of more than 135 km/h.
As it made its way toward land, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned into a fearsome superstorm, a monstrous hybrid consisting not only of rain and high wind but of snow. Forecasters warned of six-metre waves bashing into the Chicago lakefront and almost a metre of snow in West Virginia.
Hundreds of thousands of people were under orders to move to higher ground. Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney suspended their campaigning with a little more than a week to go before Election Day.
At the White House, Obama made a direct appeal to those in harm’s way: “Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying.
When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Don’t delay, don’t pause, don’t question the instructions that are being given, because this is a powerful storm.”
With files from The Canadian Press