Superstorm was ‘everything they said it was'

By The Associated Press Modified: October 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm •  Published: October 30, 2012

One of the most dramatic tales came from lower Manhattan, where a failed backup generator forced New York University's Langone Medical Center to relocate more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care. Dozens of ambulances lined up in the rainy night, and the tiny patients were gingerly moved out, some attached to battery-powered respirators as gusts of wind blew their blankets.

In Moonachie, N.J., 10 miles north of Manhattan, water rose to 5 feet within 45 minutes and trapped residents who thought the worst of the storm had passed. Mobile-home park resident Juan Allen said water overflowed a 2-foot wall along a nearby creek, filling the area with 2 to 3 feet of water within 15 minutes. “I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground,” he said. “I watched a tree crush a guy's house like a wet sponge.”

In a measure of its massive size, waves on southern Lake Michigan rose to a record-tying 20.3 feet. High winds spinning off Sandy's edges clobbered the Cleveland area early Tuesday, uprooting trees, closing schools and flooding major roads along Lake Erie.

Most along the East Coast, though, grappled with an experience like Bertha Weismann of Bridgeport, Conn. — frightening, inconvenient and financially problematic but, overall, endurable. Her garage was flooded and she lost power, but she was grateful. “I feel like we are blessed,” she said. “It could have been worse.”

Event of a lifetime

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.”

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.”

About midday Tuesday, Sandy was about 120 miles east of Pittsburgh, pushing westward with winds of 45 mph, and was expected to turn toward New York State on Tuesday 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, Fla.