Frankenstorm Sandy, a rare late-season hurricane-nor’easter hybrid that hit Long Island on Monday under a Blue Moon, may prove to be the much-anticipated Storm of the Century, rivaling damage caused by the infamous 1938 Long Island Express, based on early reports.
Flooding forced police, firefighters and National Guard troops to rescue LI and Fire Island residents who ignored mandatory evacuation orders as powerful winds downed countless trees and power lines, blacking out more than 796,000 homes and businesses as of midnight Tuesday. Five lives were reportedly lost in New York City along with one Roslyn resident. Bridges and tunnels off LI were closed, as were all parkways across the Island.
“You have to stay wherever you are,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged the public on Monday night as a record 13-foot storm surge flooded lower Manhattan and Ground Zero. ”We need to keep the roads clear. Do Not. Drive.”
Mass transit, airports, schools, buses, courts and most government offices were closed as the storm approached and were expected to remain closed Tuesday once the clean-up begins. The public was urged to only call 911 in cases of life-or-death situations. Millions felt the blow across the East Coast, into the Mid-West and Canada.
Sandy rolled ashore in Atlantic City at 8 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The nation’s oldest nuclear power plant, in Oyster Creek, New Jesey, was put on alert due to flooding.
A 94-mph gust in Eaton’s Neck at 6:10 p.m. was the highest recorded in the tri-state area as of Monday evening. Suffolk County officials feared the Atlantic Ocean could cause a breach on one of the barrier islands into the bays. Early reports of such an event could not immediately be confirmed.
Residents reported transformers bursting into flames on utility poles from the South Shore of Suffolk to the North Shore of Nassau. Floodwaters reached north of Merrick Road in Bellmore. Residents had to be rescued from homes in Lindenhurst and West Islip.
A Suffolk County police SUV was lost while authorities saxed 14 people from Fire Island while rescuers could still reach residents west of Ocean Beach, where the village downtown was swamped.
Although property damage cost estimates have yet to be calculated, it is forecast to be among the top clostliest storms in national history. More than 50 LIers died in the ’38 storm, however, a testiment to first responders and those who heeded warnings to move inland this time.
The non-emergency numbers in Nassau County is 1-888-684-4274 and 631-852-COPS in Suffolk. The Long Island Power Authority outage hotline is 800-490-0075 or 631-755-6900.