UPDATE, 3:05 p.m., Nov. 1, 2012:
The death toll from Hurricane Sandy has gone up. Reuters reports that "at least 82" people in North America died as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Additionally, the New York Times is reporting that the number of New York City fatalities increased to 37 today.
This afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported that NBC will air a Hurricane Sandy relief concert this Friday, with New Jersey rockers Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi leading the lineup, along with a host of others.
Of course, one of the most recent benefit concerts was held in 2010, in support of Haiti, after that nation's devastating earthquake. And once again, Haiti was hit hard by Sandy. In its story, "Sandy's Forgotten Victim: The Caribbean Islands," Salon.com reports: "At least 69 deaths have been reported across the Caribbean so far, including 52 in Haiti and 11 in Cuba. The toll could rise as emergency responders and relief workers reach more rural and mountainous areas."
Added Salon: "Hurricane Sandy cut an island-hopping path of destruction through some of the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the Caribbean last week, bringing catastrophic crop losses and new worries of hunger and disease." Again, you can read the whole story here. -- Scott Judy
UPDATE, 1:55 p.m., Nov. 1, 2012:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a televised press conference today. Jan Tuchman, ENR editor-in-chief, reports:
Bloomberg praised contractors in New York City for, in almost all cases, securing the construction sites around the city against the storm. There were very few instances of construction materials blowing around and causing damage, he reported. The exterior construction ban was lifted allowing outdoor construction in the city to resume.
Also, Bloomberg said he doesn't think there are any practical ways to build barriers against the storm: "That would cost a fortune. The harbor is enormous." In comparing this disaster to the World Trade Center destruction, he noted the concentration of the disaster but the enormous loss of life as opposed to the widespread damage, but fortunately a far smaller loss of life. It also was announced that the Port of New York is now open so fuel deliveries will begin to arrive, hopefully easing the long lines at gas stations.
UPDATE, 11:30 a.m., Nov. 1, 2012
This morning, ENR.com added a slideshow of Hurricane Sandy images, focusing on projects and buildings in the New York area—most notably the World Trade Center and a building designed by Frank Gehry. The related story, entitled "Hurricane Sandy's Havoc on New York City Architecture," written by editors with Architectural Record and ENR, can be viewed here.
Also, we previously posted the video of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's media comments following a tour of the damage with President Obama. Below, we are posting another video by ABC News showing President Obama's comments at the same press briefing.
Toward the end of his remarks to the press, Obama states, "We will not quit until this done.... We are not going to tolerate red tape. We are not going to tolerate bureaucracy." - Scott Judy
UPDATE, 6:15 pm., Oct. 31, 2012
President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie toured areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy today. The New York Times reported, "President Obama stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, on Wednesday afternoon, providing reassurance after Hurricane Sandy — and a politically powerful picture of bipartisanship."
ENR's update on the challenges facing New Jersey's utilities can be found here.
And CNN posted this video of the post-tour press conference held today by President Obama, Gov. Christie, and other officials.
UPDATE, 5:45 pm., Oct. 31, 2012
At 5 p.m., Silverstein Properties released the following update regarding the storm's impact on its World Trade Center development.
"Between Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives of Silverstein’s development and construction team, along with its contractors, conducted a full inspection of its three building sites along the eastern portion of the World Trade Center site. Silverstein Properties reports that:
- All of its cranes at the site are in working order.
- No structural damage was sustained at any of Silverstein's World Trade Center towers, including 4WTC, which topped out in June of this year and remains on schedule to be completed in 2013.
- The only major issues at present are water and restoration of electrical service. Neither problem is expected to significantly impact the overall construction schedule. The process of pumping water out of B4 - the lowest basement level of towers 2, 3 and 4 – is already well under way.
- No harm was detected to Silverstein’s major mechanical systems, including a major electrical room beneath the 2 WTC construction site, which supplies power to each of Silverstein’s towers.
- There was no significant damage to 7WTC. Once Con Edison is able to restore power, 7WTC will be fully operational.
UPDATE, 5:35 pm., Oct. 31, 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the following points at a 3 p.m. televised press conference on Oct. 31. The following are excerpted quotes:
- MTA workers are working extremely hard to get the water out of the tunnels. We are unlikely to see subway service under the East River before the weekend.
- All the East River bridges are open but Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Holland Tunnel and others are closed. We will have police at intersections to direct traffic. Cars on East River bridges are restricted to three or more people on Thursday and Friday from 6 am to midnight. The governor made the same decision for the Triborough and Henry Hudson bridges and the Lincoln Tunnel.
- The streets can only handle so much traffic. If you can find some other way to get in without taking your cars it would help everyone.
- 643,000 customers in the area are without power. The repair process will take days. Restoration will be spotty.Crews are working around the clock, and we have 1400 external workers from contractors around the country assisting. The city has installed 80 towers to help light streets and will have 100 more in place by tonight. We have a lot of police there as well.
- Buildings are being tagged in evacuation zones with red, yellow, green to indicate the degree of damage so owners can be advised whether they can reenter.
- On the damaged crane: Engineers have been in the building and have determined that the tower crane’s ties to the building are secure. The connectors withstood the pressure of the accident, which is a testament on how stable the tower is. We are determining steps to shrink the frozen zone around below the dangling boom. Tomorrow, crews will be tying the boom to the building and then constructing a crane next to it to take this one down. The street below won’t be fully reopened until sometime this weekend at the earliest.
- Sanitation is removing tons of debris related to the storm.
- NYC tap water is safe to drink, it has been tested in all parts of the city. We are trying to truck in water to areas where no electricity means pumps can’t move water up the buildings.
- Most city buildings are OK. Generally we had generators not in the basement and many buildings are on higher ground. Flooding affected low-lying buildings, which included some police precincts and schools.
- We have to do a better job of protecting our infrastructure—for example, we should not be putting back-up generators in the basements of buildings.
UPDATE, 2:25 pm., Oct. 31, 2012
ENR received the following statements about flooding at the World Trade Center Site:
From Bud Perrone, media contact for Silverstein Properties:
"At Silverstein Properties, the safety of our employees, tenants and their families is our top concern While our assessment of the storm's impact is still ongoing, it appears that we have not sustained any lasting damage to our existing properties or at our World Trade Center buildings currently under construction. There was some degree of flooding affecting the below-grade areas of the buildings. We are working closely with the Port Authority and our contractors to pump that water out.
"Seven World Trade Center is staffed and running with fully functioning emergency power. Once power is restored to Lower Manhattan, we expect to fully resume operations."
From John Gallagher, a spokesperson for Tishman Construction, an AECOM company:
"Working with our clients and regulatory agencies to take necessary precautions before the storm paid off, and our sites have come through rather well. Crews are working to pump water out of some sites. We are still conducting our assessment, but we've yet to see any structural damage at any of our sites. We are looking forward to resuming work as soon as possible."
UPDATE, 2:10 pm., Oct. 31, 2012
From ENR Editor-in-Chief Janice Tuchman, highlights of the televised press conference held today by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and MTA CEO Joseph Lhota. The quotes listed below by Tuchman relate to the ongoing recovery and future rebuilding efforts.
Schumer: This is one of the biggest disasters to strike the city and the country. We can't count nickels and times. This is a national disaster and needs to be treated that way by members of Congress.
Gillibrand: Local state and federal leadership are all working in collaboration on this, and it will make a difference.
Cuomo: This is a difficult period for this state. We have gone through dark times before, and we will come back even stronger. The challenge is not just to build back but to build back better. That's our goal. We have to learn from this. Given the frequency of these extreme weather patterns, we can't say this won't happen again. That would be short sighted. We have to anticipate extreme weather events in the future and modify our infrastructure and our built environment. We are very susceptible to coastal flooding. We don't have built-in protections; we have not designed for it. It's a longer conversation—but part of learning from this is the recognition of that reality. We have to do our jobs going forward so that we con't incur this damage. All the infrastructure we have is below ground. It's an engineering marvel but now it is a liability because we don't have built-in pumping capacity, and the electrical systems are in the tunnels. We can expect a situation like this to reoccur, and we need a systemic solution for the longterm.
More Cuomo quotes:
•Federal dewatering team moving into action is the best in the country. What I want for Christmas is 24 twelve-inch pumps.
•The cost will be in the billions of dollars, I would say at this point. State government costs will be covered 90% from FEMA. The normal reimbursement is 75% but it can go to 90 or even 100%. We can then reimburse counties.
•People will debate whether there is climate change. But the frequency of extreme weather situations is way up. There is only so long you can say this is once in a lifetime, and it's not going to happen again—every very two years we have a 100-year flood. It is not prudent to say it's not going to happen again. Once you have that recognition, you have to determine what design and construction changes you will make to deal with it. It is a reality that is becoming clearer every day.
Schumer: We are going to pay a price for the change in climate one way or another. There is a relationship between the once-in-a-lifetime storms and doing things that prevent climate change.
Cuomo: The death toll statewide has gone up to 26 people now. It's very disturbing and sad to see the amount of damage done and the lives that have been disrupted everywhere.
Joseph Lhota, MTA Chairman and CEO: There will be limited subway service back tomorrow. We are going switch by switch and substation by substation, checking to see if everything is operational. The goal is to get more and more service back day by day. MTA's website will be updated with details. Without money coming, in we are losing $18 million a day, and we have the added costs of overtime to staff working to restart the system.
Cuomo: I'm happy with the pace of recovery. Three of the seven subway tunnels that were flooded are cleared. We are using every resource—existing pumps and others brought in from the outside. Water removal is the greatest feat we are accomplishing right now. The Path tubes have water up to the platforms along five miles of tunnels. The Navy also is helping us with the dewatering process and bring their pumping capabilities. We spent days preparing, we had the advantage of notice. Preparations were adequate, storm was as predicted, I don't now what we could have done that we did not do. But protecting this state from coastal flooding is a conversation that should begin.
UPDATE, 1:20 pm., Oct. 31, 2012
A new story by ENR's transportation editor Aileen Cho reports on the hit sustained by New York City's infrastructure system.
Writes Cho: "Hurricane Sandy exceeded officials’ worst fears and dealt a knock-out punch to New York City’s century-old-plus-infrastructure, leaving an unprecedented 800,000 customers without power and millions more without public transportation for what could be weeks."
Describing the situation on the day immediately following Sandy's Oct. 29 impact, Cho went on to describe Manhattan as "flat-out paralyzed." Read more here.
The impacts to New Jersey were just as dramatic, as ENR's Debra Rubin reports. As of yesterday, an estimated 2.2 million customers in New Jersey were without power, with an estimated 1.4 million of those served by PSE&G, Rubin reports. Read more here.
Also, a CBS News video of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Oct. 30 press briefing can be viewed here. -- Scott Judy
Update, 4:00 pm., Oct. 30, 2012
The impacts to New York City and beyond were dramatic. This Youtube video captures several images of the city and its experience with Hurricane Sandy:
Update, 1:08 pm., Oct. 30, 2012
Despite heavy flooding and high winds, no widespread damage to the highways and bridges in the Northeast has yet been reported. Officials across New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Connecticut closed major roads and bridges before the storm hit. While the majority of roads remain closed due to flooding and debris, some bridges are now being opened for limited use.
UPDATE, 1:00 pm., Oct. 30, 2012
The New York metro sustained huge impacts as a result of Hurricane Sandy, including a massive fire in the Breezy Point area of Queens, captured here in this raw video feed from CNN, via Youtube.
Additionally, as ENR's Tudor Van Hampton reported earlier, a 1,000-ft-tall tower crane working at the $1.5-billion One57 high-rise residential project in Manhattan collapsed. This video caught the tower crane's collapse as it happened:
UPDATE, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 30, 2012
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, current operations statement:
Update 12:29 p.m. Oct. 30, 2012
The Washington, D.C., area Metro rail and bus transit system will reopen today (Tues., Oct. 30), starting at 2 p.m., but with a reduced schedule, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority announced this morning.
WMATA also said it expects to resume its regular weekday service levels on Wednesday morning.
UPDATE, 12:27 p.m. Oct. 30, 2012
New York Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman and CEO Joseph Lhota, at an 11 a.m. televised briefing, says seven subway tunnels are under water. Station at South Street has water up the ceiling. Pumping is under way.
New York City bridges are reopening, following structural inspections. Each bridge has its own inspector, Lhota says, and the process takes about two hours.
Earlier today, he said, "we experienced some gusts in excess of 100 m.p.h." The 110-mile-long, Long Island Railroad sustained extensive damage, but repair crews are performing assessment and repair tasks, Lhota says, "and we expect to resume limited operations tomorrow."
Update 12:05 p.m. Oct. 30, 2012
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) in a press conference now under way made the following points:
UPDATE, 11:21 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
Power explosion in downtown Manhattan identified as the 13th Street power plant on the East River where transformer exploded says ConEd spokesman Bob McGee. Reports of workers trapped being investigated. Also transformer outage at Leonard St substation. Here's a Youtube video posted by ABCNews showing the explosion in slow motion:
Update 10:26 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
Evidence that 13.7 ft storm surge may be starting to ebb in New York harbor. More than 2 ft. higher than projected. Next high tide about 9 a.m. Brooklyn Battery tunnel and some PATH train tunnels reported deeply flooded, as well as some subways. Salt water intrusion causes enormously more difficult recovery, due to corrosion and electrical conductive properties of salt. Heavy flooding reported at World Trade Center construction site.
Update 10:16 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
four million now reported to be without power in 16 states; 1/4 of those in NYC. --Weather Underground.
Update 10:01 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
Substation explosion reported In lower Manhattan... Seawater rushed in. Power was already out throughout lower Manhattan. Water is rising and washing up past South Street Seaport, rising up to Pearl Street.
Mayor Bloomberg at press conference, suggests the tide will soon abate, winds drop and rains clear. Hang on.
Update 9:06 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
more than 3 million reported without power in impacted state, as reported by the Weather Channel.
UPDATE 9:06 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
80 knot winds at JFK. burning smells in lower Manhattan, subway system filling with water, water covering runway at LaGuardia airport, electrical explosions on New Jersey side of New York Harbor, lights going out in lower Manhattan. Statue of Liberty's torch is out.
UPDATE 8:37 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
Emergency crews are on the scene of the partial collapse of a four-story mixed-use building at 15th street and Eighth Avenue in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood on Manhattan's east side. No injuries have been reported.
According to witnesses at the scene, the building's second and third story brick facade tore off around 6:30 p.m. and fell onto the sidewalk below.
photo by Laura Wang
Update 8:30 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
More than 1 million customers now are without power in the Mid-Atlantic region.
-- Atlantic City Electric reported 126,457 without power
-- Public Service Electric & Gas, New Jersey’s largest utility, had 156,000 customers without power.
-- Baltimore Gas & Electric had 36,761 customers offline and
Inland areas are also hit hard.
-- FirstEnergy’s Pennsylvania utilities reported 69,259 customers without power
--Mary Powers for ENR
Update 7:19 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
Weather.com is reporting 1.6 million without power now. Expect it to go up. Also reported waves in the Great Lakes of 22 ft.
Update 5:42 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
At least 300,000 people were without power along the US East Coast at mid-afternoon on Monday, Oct. 29 as rain and hurricane-force winds caused by Hurricane Sandy moved closer to shore. ENR update.
Update 5:42 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
The Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. may avoid taking the brunt of Hurricane Sandy’s 90-mph winds, but citizens there are definitely feeling the impact.
According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, Ocean City, Md.’s downtown pier experienced significant damage as Hurricane Sandy went by, according to the Baltimore Sun. An Ocean City webcam on U.S. Highway 50 shows rising waters.
In Virginia’s Hampton Roads area, the Midtown Tunnel was re-opened at about 4:45 p.m., after being closed for much of the day, according to the Virginian-Pilot. The newspaper reported that water on the Norfolk side of the tunnel’s tide gate had earlier reached a height of 13 feet.
Officials had reported earlier in the day that worst flooding in the Hampton Roads area had already passed, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
Also, the Associated Press reported earlier that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested to use Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as a staging center for supplies and other items.
At 3 p.m. on Monday, the U.S. Dept. of Energy estimated that 316,563 customers were without power as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Of that figure, more than 105,000 were located in New York. The remainder, by state: New Jersey, 87,649; Massachusetts, 30,413; Maryland, 20,199; New Hampshire, 18,190; North Carolina, 15,466; Virginia, 11,125; Rhode Island, 11,099; Delaware, 2,406; and Connecticut, 2,073.
DOE also reported that a Hess refinery in Port Reading, N.J., and a Phillips 66 refinery in Linden, N.J., had been shut down in advance of Sandy. Additionally, more than a dozen terminals owned by Phillips 66, NuStar Energy, Hess and ExxonMobil—located from Virginia to Massachusetts—were being shut down.
Finally, utilities in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia collectively reported having an estimated 15,000 employees and contractors ready to respond, according to the DOE.
-- Scott Judy
Update 5:33 p.m. Oct. 29, 2012
Hurricane Sandy is a hurricane embedded in a huge Northeaster.
At 5 p.m. the National Weather Service reports that a 20 nautical-mile dia. eye has developed in the hurricane since the last advisory. Hurricane hunter aircraft have observed flight level winds of 94 kts. Surface-level winds of up to 83 kts. have been observed in the storm's southwestern quadrant more than 90 nm from the center. Central pressure has dropped to about 943 mb.
The weather service says Sandy is now crossing the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which is likely contributing to the formation of the eye and the tightening of convection. It is likely to move over colder waters within the next three hours, which should end the intensification, but the NWS cautions that that should have little impact on the overall intensity or size of the "extremely large windfield that is now more than 1,000 nm in diameter."
"At the moment the hurricane force winds are only occurring in the southwest quadrant, but model guidance suggest that these could spread into the northern semicircle before landfall," the statement says. The service goes on also to remind people not to focus on the center or the exact forecast track, since strong winds cover an area several hundred miles across and the highest winds will not necessarily be near the center...especially just a few hundred feet above the ground."
Landfall of the center in Cape May County N.J. is expected late this evening, at which time a turn to the west northwest is expected. A decrease in forward speed is also expected after the system makes landfall.
With storm gusts expected to be up to 80-85 mph, the bridges in the NYC area are quickly becoming unsafe. However, emergency vehicles and personnel are exempted from traffic restrictions to the degree practical.
The following bridges will be closed:
The Staten Island crossings – Bayonne Bridge, Goethals Bridge, and Outerbridge Crossing – and the Robert F. Kennedy/Triborough Bridge will stay open as long as possible consistent with safety. However, closures could occur imminently.
In addition, the Hudson River bridges north of the Tappan Zee Bridge are not being closed at this time. New York State Bridge Authority bridges will remain open as conditions permit.
Con Edison reports it is also preparing for the possibility that it will have to shut down underground electrical equipment if the storm surge floods low-lying areas, such as parts of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Shutting down underground equipment may avoid extensive damage to company and customer equipment, and allow company crews to restore power to customers more quickly.
In the event of major flooding, the company would have to wait for flood waters to recede before workers could enter some facilities to begin assessing damage. As equipment is inspected and determined safe to energize, the highest priority for restoration will be given to critical customer facilities that have an impact on the general public such as mass transit, hospitals, police and fire stations, and sewage and water-pumping stations.
The New York City Dept. of Buildings (DOB) suspended all exterior buildings work on Saturday at 5 p.m. ahead of the storm and until further notice. The agency excluded work related to safeguarding sites or to damage repair related to the storm, however.
Many large firms have long-had crisis contingency plans in place but as major weather systems—including Hurricane Irene last year—have hit the region hard this decade, those plans have evolved further and become more extensive. ENR New York discusses such plans with Cindy DePrater, vice president of Environment, Health & Safety at Turner Construction Co., New York.
Last minute preparations are ending in towns throughout the region as the winds and rain increase and the rivers and estuarian waters rise. Scenes from Millburn, and Union, N.J. today where ENR editor Debra Ruben is hunkered down.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announces that it has enhanced inspections and monitoring at nuclear power plants that could potentially experience impacts from the Hurricane Sandy.
The NRC is monitoring the storm from the Incident Response Center at its Region I Office in King of Prussia, Pa., and from the Operations Center at the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Md.
The plants receiving enhanced oversight during the storm include:
-- Calvert Cliffs, in Lusby, Md.
-- Salem and Hope Creek, in Hancocks Bridge, N.J.
-- Oyster Creek, in Lacey Township, N.J.
-- Peach Bottom, in Delta, Pa.
-- Three Mile Island 1, in Middletown, Pa.
-- Susquehanna, in Salem Township, Pa.
-- Indian Point, in Buchanan, N.Y.
-- Millstone, in Waterford, Conn.
The NRC says the inspectors are independently verifying that plant operators are making the proper preparations, are following relevant procedures and are taking appropriate actions to ensure plant safety before, during and after the storm. Activities at all nuclear power plants are overseen on an ongoing basis by at least two NRC Resident Inspectors. In response to the storm, the agency will dispatch additional inspectors to provide support, with still others on standby.
No real changes have been made since earlier this morning.
Hurricane Sandy is located 260 nautical miles south-southeast of New York City or 205 nm southeast of Atlantic City moving north-northwestward at 18 mph.
A turn toward the northwest and then the west-northwest is expected during the day as the center rotates between a large mid/upper low pressure area located over the southeastern U.S. and a large high pressure area located over Atlantic Canada Landfall is expected over southern New Jersey or northern Delaware this evening or tonight.
Tropical storm force winds are occurring from N.C. to N.Y. and will spread along the Mid-Atlantic and New England seaboards later today. The wind field remains huge in Sandy with hurricane force winds extending outward to 175 nm from the center, which means hurricane force winds are expected along the coast from Va. to Mass. This will result in a massive area of extremely dangerous storm surge along the Mid Atlantic and New England coasts. Tide levels are currently running 1-4' above normal along the Mid-Atlantic coast with storm surge expected to begin as the hurricane approaches the coast.
Surge values of 6 ft to 11 ft are expected in New York Harbor with Bergen Point West Reach, NY recording a tide this morning of 9.29 ft at 9:12 a.m., which is 3.59 ft above normal. Another high tide is at 9 P.M. tonight.
Due to the slow motion of Sandy an extended period of high water levels is expected over a very large area with tides increasing as the day and night progresses.
Hurricane Sandy remains at Category 1 strength and has a small window opportunity this morning to intensify a little as it crosses the warm Gulf Stream waters. As Hurricane Sandy approaches the coast it will begin to interact with a frontal system just to its west and intensification should be halted.
Sandy is expected to remain at Category 1 hurricane strength through landfall and no model shows higher than Category 1 status. As Sandy moves inland, winds should decrease rapidly with winds expected to drop below tropical storm strength early tomorrow afternoon.
Due to the fact that Sandy will be interacting with a cold front, blizzard conditions will continue over portions of the Appalachians, which is very unusual for a hurricane.