Levee breaks, floods two towns; 16 dead from superstorm

More than 50 homes burned in Queens.
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Levee breaks in NJ town, hundreds being evacuated

Hundreds of people are being evacuated after a levee broke in a northern New Jersey town early Tuesday.

Bergen County executive chief of staff Jeanne Baratta tells The Record newspaper the entire town of Moonachie is under water and as many as 1,000 people could need to be evacuated.

Baratta says people in a trailer park have had to climb on the roofs of their trailers to await rescue.

There are no reports of injuries or deaths.

Obama declares major disaster in NYC, Long Island

President Barack Obama has declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island.

The declaration makes federal funding available to people in the area. It bore the brunt of the sea surge from a superstorm that hit the East Coast on Monday.

The National Hurricane Center said that as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the storm was moving westward across Pennsylvania and was centered about 90 miles west of Philadelphia.

It lost its hurricane status on Monday and is now considered an extratropical cyclone.

It is expected to move into western New York on Tuesday night and move into Canada on Wednesday.

Superstorm Sandy is now being blamed for at least 16 deaths in the U.S. One person who died was a crew member a replica of the 18th-century sailing ship HMS Bounty that was built for the 1962 Marlon Brando movie "Mutiny on the Bounty." The ship went down off North Carolina during the storm. The captain is still missing.

Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline with 80 mph winds Monday night and hurled an unprecedented 13-foot surge of seawater at New York City.

Homes burn in Queens

A fire involving 15 houses was burning overnight in a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. A fire department spokesman says 170 firefighters are currently at the blaze in the Breezy Point section. He says two people have suffered minor injuries. Fire officials say the blaze was reported around 11 p.m. Monday and involves about 15 houses in an area flooded by the superstorm that began sweeping through earlier. The neighborhood sits on the Rockaway peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.

The surge is threatening electrical systems that power Wall Street. Large sections of lower Manhattan have been plunged into darkness as water pressed into the island from three sides.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says backup power has been lost at New York University Hospital and the city is working to move people out. He's urging residents not to call 911 unless it's an emergency and imploring them to stay off roads so emergency vehicles can get around.

Wall Street will be closed for a second day today because of the superstorm that's pummeling the East Coast. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses are without power in New York City, and utility officials say it could be a week before some of them get their electricity back. Some 6.2 million customers are without electricity across the East.

While Sandy has lost its hurricane status, forecasters say it remains every bit as dangerous to the 50 million people in its path. The hybrid storm is also smacking Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston with stinging rain and gusts of more than 85 mph. Coastal communities have suffered flooding.

Sandy downgraded, makes landfall

Forecasters say the center of Superstorm Sandy has roared ashore on the New Jersey coast, packing high winds and a life-threatening storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of the enormous storm made landfall at 8 p.m. near Atlantic City, after it was reclassified from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone.

Sandy had sustained winds of 85 mph. Forecasters say it's no longer a hurricane, but was still a vast and dangerous hybrid storm

Sandy is combining with a wintry storm from the west and cold air from the Arctic. The superstorm could menace some 50 million people in the nation's most heavily populated corridor, from big East Coast cities to the Great Lakes.

Just before roaring ashore, the National Hurricane Center announced that it considered Sandy no longer a hurricane but had turned into a wintry hybrid.

Utility cuts power to NYC

New York City's main utility has cut power to part of downtown Manhattan in a pre-emptive bid to lessen damage from a massive approaching storm.

Consolidated Edison spokesman Chris Olert says the utility cut the power shortly after 7 p.m. Monday to 6,500 customers.

That's when a few inches of water began spilling over the seawall of lower Manhattan. A weakened Sandy approached the city, threatening an 11-foot storm surge.

Olert says that power was cut to customers in an area bordered by the Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway and the East River.

Manhattan plunged into darkness

A superstorm that sent water rushing onto city streets has left a large swath of the lower part of Manhattan without power.

Consolidated Edison spokesman Chris Olert said Monday evening that the power was out for most of Manhattan south of 26th Street.

On the east side, the power outage extended from 29th Street south. There were some scattered areas that still had electricity.

Olert said the damage stemmed from flooding and the probable loss of a transmission feeder.

The power outage was separate from a planned power cut that Con Ed did in certain lower Manhattan neighborhoods to protect underwater systems from flood damage.

Olert said there were 250,000 customers without power in Manhattan. A customer represents a single meter, so the number of people actually affected is likely higher.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says backup power has been lost at New York University hospital and the city is working to move people out.

The mayor delivered a news conference Monday night and said rain was tapering off in the city and the storm surge was expected to recede by midnight.

He urged residents not to call 911 unless it was an emergency and implored them to stay off the roads so emergency vehicles could get around.

He says a few parts of lower Manhattan still have power. He said there have been a large number of fires reported from downed power lines.

Crane dangles from high-rise, clears streets

Nine-hundred guests at a nearby hotel are among those who have been evacuated as a construction crane dangles from a luxury high-rise in midtown Manhattan.

The crane collapsed in high winds as conditions worsened from the approaching Hurricane Sandy. Meteorologists say winds atop the 74-story building could have been close to 95 mph at the time.

Engineers and inspectors were planning to climb to the top of the building to examine it as the huge storm -- now classified a post-tropical cyclone -- bears down on the city.

There are no reports of injuries. City officials don't have a number on how many people have been told to leave.

The nearly-completed high-rise is known as 0ne57 and is in one of the city's most desirable neighborhoods, near Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle and Central Park.

City officials say the crane had been inspected, along with other city cranes, on Friday and was found to be ready for the weather.

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