Hurricane Sandy shuts down New York

Weather forecasters warned yesterday that the approaching megastorm which could wreak life-threatening havoc to tens of millions of people’s lives across 800 miles of the East Coast has the potential to be the largest storm ever to hit the United States.

And with several state of emergencies already in existence across the country, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced that the city’s subway and bus operations closed down yesterday and would ‘most definitely’ remain shut all of Monday with services projected to re-start probably on Tuesday afternoon.

Preparing for the worst: Workers cover air vents that could cause the New York subway system to flood in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Subway and bus services would resume services 12 hours after the storm ends. Pic/AFP

The closure of New York City’s mass transport network for the second time in two years and only the second time in history will mean that almost 12 million people in the wealthiest city in the US will be prevented from taking their usual route to work by the oncoming storm system.

The Big Apple suspended its train, subway and bus service last night ahead of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to bring strong winds and dangerous flooding to the East Coast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference.

“If it turns and moves off, great. Really great. But if not then we will be prepared for it,” said a cautious Cuomo. The service is expected to resume operations about 12 hours after the storm ends, officials said at the news conference.

Airlines have cancelled hundreds of flights into airports along the US east coast ahead of the arrival of a major storm, authorities said Sunday. Air France cancelled all flights into New York and Washington while US airlines have called off hundreds of domestic flights. New York airports were to stay yesterday but the airport authority warned passengers to expect disruption.

Forecasters said on its current projected track, Sandy is most likely to hit anywhere between Delaware and the New York/New Jersey area but said it was too early to pinpoint where the storm, which has the potential to be the biggest to hit the mainland, would make landfall.

“We’re looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people,” said Louis Uccellini, head of environmental prediction for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Storm wreaks havoc on US elections
The big storm taking aim at the East Coast a little more than a week before the election has scrambled campaign plans, with both candidates cancelling events and US President Barack Obama moving up his departure for Florida to beat the storm. In a tight race, Hurricane Sandy has forced Obama and Republican Mitt Romney to toss out carefully mapped-out itineraries as the candidates work to maximise voter turnout while avoiding any suggestion they were putting politics ahead of public safety. Romney cancelled plans to campaign in Virginia on Sunday, opting instead to join running mate Paul Ryan in Ohio.

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