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Airports were shut across the East Coast and far beyond as tens of thousands of travelers found they couldn’t get where they were going. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited service, but LaGuardia Airport will stay closed, officials said.
Sandy began in the Atlantic and knocked around the Caribbean — killing nearly 70 people — and strengthened into a hurricane as it chugged across the southeastern coast of the United States. By Tuesday night it had ebbed in strength but was joining up with another, more wintry storm — an expected confluence of weather systems that earned it nicknames like "superstorm" and, on Halloween eve, "Frankenstorm."
Sandy takes out 25 percent of cell towers
Federal regulators say Hurricane Sandy knocked out a quarter of the cell towers in an area spreading across ten states, and the situation could get worse before it gets better.
Many cell towers that are still working are doing so with the help of generators and could run out of fuel before commercial power is restored, the Federal Communications Commission says.
The landline phone network has held up better in the affected area, which stretches from Virginia to Massachusetts, the FCC says, but about a quarter of cable customers are also without service.
It became, pretty much everyone agreed Tuesday, the weather event of a lifetime — and one shared vigorously on social media by people in Sandy’s path who took eye-popping photographs as the storm blew through, then shared them with the world by the blue light of their smartphones.
On Twitter, Facebook and the photo-sharing service Instagram, people tried to connect, reassure relatives and make sense of what was happening — and, in many cases, work to authenticate reports of destruction and storm surges. They posted and passed around images and real-time updates at a dizzying rate, wishing each other well and gaping, virtually, at scenes of calamity moments after they unfolded. Among the top terms on Facebook through the night and well into Tuesday, according to the social network: "we are OK," "made it" and "fine."
By Tuesday evening, the remnants of Sandy were about 50 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, pushing westward with winds of 45 mph. It was expected to turn toward New York State and Canada during the night.
Although weakening as it goes, the storm will continue to bring heavy rain and flooding, said Daniel Brown of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Atlantic City’s fabled Boardwalk, the first in the nation, lost several blocks when Sandy came through, though the majority of it remained intact even as other Jersey Shore boardwalks were dismantled. What damage could be seen on the coastline Tuesday was, in some locations, staggering — "unthinkable," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said of what unfolded along the Jersey Shore, where houses were swept from their foundations and amusement park rides were washed into the ocean. "Beyond anything I thought I would ever see."
Resident Carol Mason returned to her bayfront home to carpets that squished as she stepped on them. She made her final mortgage payment just last week. Facing a mandatory evacuation order, she had tried to ride out the storm at first but then saw the waters rising outside her bathroom window and quickly reconsidered.
"I looked at the bay and saw the fury in it," she said. "I knew it was time to go."
Contributing to this report were Katie Zezima in Atlantic City, N.J.; Alicia Caldwell and Martin Crutsinger in Washington; Colleen Long, Jennifer Peltz, Tom Hays, Larry Neumeister, Ralph Russo and Scott Mayerowitz in New York; Meghan Barr in Mastic Beach, N.Y.; Christopher S. Rugaber in Arlington, Va.; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pa.: John Christoffersen in Bridgeport, Conn.; Vicki Smith in Elkins, W.Va.; David Porter in Newark, N.J.; Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh; and Dave Collins in Hartford, Conn.
A state-by-state look at the East Coast superstorm
The massive storm that started out as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast and morphed into a huge and problematic system, putting more than 8.5 million homes and businesses in the dark and causing at least 50 deaths in the U.S. Here’s a snapshot of what is happening, state by state.
The Long Island Sound flooded roads as the storm toppled trees and power lines. Three people died, including a man last seen swimming in heavy surf. Power outages: 594,000, down from a peak of more than 620,000.
Nearly all residents of flood-prone coastal communities in Kent County heeded calls to evacuate. The Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach resort communities were flooded. Power outages: 8,900, down from more than 45,000 at the peak.
High wind warnings and a lakeshore flood warning are in effect Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago. City officials said Lake Shore Drive is expected to remain open.
A winter storm warning was in effect for three southeastern counties. Up to a foot of snow fell at high elevations along the West Virginia border.
Wind gusts topped 60 mph, shutting down the port of Portland and knocking out power to homes and businesses. Power outages: About 25,000, down from a peak of more than 90,000.
Floodwaters swamped touristy Ocean City. In western Maryland, up to two feet of snow tied up traffic. Two people were killed, including a man who died when a tree fell on a house in Pasadena. Power outages: More than 145,000, down from a peak of 290,000.
Strong winds and heavy surf led to mandatory evacuations in sections of coastal Dartmouth and Fall River and voluntary evacuations in other coastal communities. Power outages: 155,000, down from a peak of about 400,000.
Cargo shipping on the Great Lakes was at a standstill because of waves of up to 20 feet. Power outages: More than 150,000.
Politicians canceled visits to the presidential swing state on Monday. A construction worker checking on a job site in Lincoln, N.H., was killed in a landslide. Power outages: About 113,000, down from a peak of 210,000.
The center of the storm came ashore Monday evening near Atlantic City, which was cut off from the mainland by the storm surge along with other barrier islands, stranding residents who ignored warnings to evacuate. A tidal surge sent water into the streets of two northern towns, setting off a frantic rescue effort. There were six deaths. Power outages: 2.3 million, down from a peak of 2.7 million.
A record storm surge that was higher than predicted along with high winds damaged the electrical system and plunged millions of people into darkness. Utilities say it could be up to a week before power is fully restored. A fire burned 50 houses in one flooded section of Queens. There were 25 storm-related deaths, 18 of them in New York City. Power outages: 2.18 million, down from a peak of 2.2 million.
Parts of western North Carolina were under a winter storm warning, where a foot of snow had fallen in higher elevations. A woman who was pulled from the Atlantic after abandoning a tall ship was among two dead. Power outages: A high of 126,000, down to fewer than 400.
The Cleveland area and northeast Ohio were being slammed with rain and high winds. Snow was reported in some parts south of Cleveland and south of Columbus. A pair of car crashes on icy roads in northwest Ohio killed two people. Power outages: More than 250,000.
Wind and flooding closing more than 200 bridges and roads. Five people died, including an 8-year-old boy who was killed when a tree limb fell on him. Power outages: 933,000, down from a peak of 1.2 million.
The storm surge destroyed beach cottages and flooded businesses. Providence’s hurricane barrier performed well in one of its biggest tests. Power outages: About 80,000, down from more than 115,000 at the peak.
Nearly two feet of heavy, wet snow fell in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hikers coming off sections of the Appalachian Trial reported tangles of fallen trees and waist-deep drifts.
Winds knocked down trees and power lines, and schools were closed. Power outages: 3,550, down from a peak of more than 10,000.
Utilities brought in crews to help restore power after high winds and snow. A curfew was ordered Monday on Chincoteague Island. Two people died in storm-related traffic accidents. Power outages: More than 128,000, down from a peak of more than 180,000.
Federal and local governments were closed Tuesday along with the courts and public schools. Power outages: Nearly 9,000, down from a peak of about 25,000.
Some areas were buried under more than a foot of snow. A woman was killed in a traffic crash. Power outages: More than 268,000.
A village along Lake Michigan suggested residents evacuate Tuesday morning because of the possibility of dangerously high waves and flooding.
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