By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Hurricane Sandy ripped its way through the northeast on Monday and left a trail of devastation so massive it will be weeks before the final toll can be calculated.
In New York City, an unprecedented 14-foot storm surge flooded streets, poured into subway tunnels and shorted out electrical circuits. Large sections of the city are without electricity and the mass transit system is out of service. Schools – and the New York Stock Exchange – were cancelled for the second day on Tuesday and again on Wednesday.
At least a dozen deaths in the region were caused by the storm, according to news reports. A woman jogging outside Prospect Park was hospitalized after being struck by a tree limb.
MTA chairman Joseph J. Lhota said in a statement, “Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots.”
In Brooklyn roughly 71,000 Con Edison customers – many in Coney Island, Brighton Beach and areas south – were without power as of 1 a.m. Tuesday.
Brooklynites near the East River were shocked see all of Manhattan south of 39th Street plunge into darkness Monday night. Con Edison reports that 193,000 customers in Manhattan are still without power. In Queens, 74,000 have lost power; in Staten Island, 76,000; the Bronx, 38,000.
Con Ed Senior VP John Miksad said Hurricane Sandy was the largest storm-related outage in history.
A huge fire in Breezy point destroyed between 80 and 100 houses in an area flooded by the superstorm. The neighborhood sits on the Rockaway peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.
Parks were closed on Monday and tape was stretched across entrances. Patrolling NYPD cars, using in-car megaphones, tried to shoo away persistent pedestrian storm-watchers from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. "You will be arrested," warned the NYPD, as cars made repeated runs for several hours as new storm-watchers gathered. “What do you think this tape is here for?” one frustrated officer asked two young women who were taking pictures of the choppy East River.
Other adventure-seekers frolicked in the intense wind at the foot of Main Street at the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Despite the Mayor’s evacuation order, a number of residents living in DUMBO’s low-lying Zone A decided to stay put. Russ Schoenholt, who lives with his family at 1 Main Street, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Monday afternoon that he wasn’t worried.
“We live in a high floor,” he said, adding, “We evacuated last year; that influenced our decision to stay.”
His son Liam, age 9, said the hurricane was “kind of fun. I like the wind.” His brother Julius, age 7, added, “I like going running.”
Later Monday night, however, much of DUMBO’s evacuation zone, including the Empire State Park section of Brooklyn Bridge Park, was under water. Even more shocking to many, a heartbreaking picture snapped by DUMBO residents Ana Andjelic and Brian Morrissey showed the lovingly-restored Jane’s Carousel surrounded by waves on all sides, apparently inches from innundation.
A resident of Brooklyn Heights with a view of New Jersey told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle he saw "random, bright explosions all across New Jersey, as many as eight or nine, indicated power lines and transformers being taken out by falling trees and salt water flooding.....then, a huge, continuous yellow and orange flame filled the sky in the direction of Sheepshead Bay; it was Breezy Point."
Further south, the famously toxic Gowanus Canal overflowed its banks onto the surrounding streets. City Councilmember Brad Lander contacted the Environmental Protection Agency and warned residents to stay away from the water and its residue. “After the storm, the EPA and DEP are committed to work together conduct any sampling needed to address potential issues of toxicity created by the flooding,” he said in a statement.
Mayor Bloomberg, at a press conference held Monday evening at the Office of Emergency Management in Downtown Brooklyn said public transportation would remain shut down Tuesday along with schools and parks. Sanitation crews will start collecting debris at 7 a.m., he said, and a recovery plan was in place, which would “ramp up as the storm winds down.”
But officials said that subway repairs alone may take a week or more.