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Entries in Tropical Storm (16)

Wednesday
Oct312012

Superstorm Sandy: Death Toll Up to 50, But Some Steps Toward Recovery

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It blasted the ocean itself over dunes, seawalls and berms and into downtowns, tunnels and subways. It killed dozens of people, destroyed famed landmarks and amusement parks, pushed houses off their foundations and toppled trees. It virtually shut down New York City, the nation's largest city, with major airports, highways, bridges and tunnels in and out of Manhattan shut down, just as they were after 9/11.

For millions of people in New York City and elsewhere, the lights remain out, communications remain down and floodwaters, downed trees and power lines still make roads impassable.

However, some of the hardest-hit areas on the East Coast were beginning to take the first steps towards recovery. For instance, some New York bridges, tunnels, highways and airports reopened or were slated to be reopened by Wednesday morning.

So far, Sandy has been blamed for up to 50 fatalities, and has left more than eight million customers without power. The number of dead continued to rise by the hour a day after the storm made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., and rocked several states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

"I just never thought I would see what I saw today -- ever," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. "It won't be same. It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed into the ocean."

The power outages were spread over 17 states, from Virginia to Maine, and while the number of customers affected topped eight million, the number of people living without power would be several times that number. The number of power outages topped two million customers in New Jersey and half a million in New York City, and approached another million on New York's Long Island.

President Obama issued disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey so that federal aid will be offered to the affected areas to help supplement state and local clean-up efforts.

During a visit to the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon, Obama sent a very clear message to federal agencies.

"Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something," the president said. "I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible."

The president said mayors and governors who run into any trouble can call him directly at the White House. He praised the heroic efforts of rescuers and helpful community members, but emphasized that recovery is going to take some time.

"It is not going to be easy for a lot of these communities to recover swiftly, and so it is going to be important that we sustain that spirit of resilience, that we continue to be good neighbors for the duration until everybody is back on their feet," Obama said.

Among the hardest hit were New Jersey and New York, where public transportation was shut down, millions lost power and storm surges swamped cars, homes, businesses and boardwalks.

But in the wake of the devastation, states are beginning to make moves toward comebacks.

In New York, the New York Stock Exchange is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after being closed for an unprecedented two days. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was scheduled to ring the opening bell.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the area's airports and bridges, said it plans to have two major airports -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey -- open Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. with limited service. However, LaGuardia Airport in New York City will remain closed amid flooding on the tarmac and other damage.

Public transportation in the city also screeched to a halt as the subway system, rail yards and bus depots were flooded in what officials called the biggest disaster of its 108 years in existence.

"The New York City subway system ... has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement.

All bridges into Manhattan were reopened Tuesday and limited bus service was to resume Tuesday evening -- though the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel remained submerged beneath floods. The Holland Tunnel also remained closed though the Lincoln Tunnel was reopened early Tuesday.

Officials hoped to have power restored to New York in two to three days and aim to have the subways running in three to four days, Bloomberg said.

It will take about a week for PATH trains between New Jersey and New York to resume service.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday.

Obama will visit ravaged New Jersey on Wednesday, where search and rescue missions have become a priority.

A berm in Bergen County, N.J., was breached Tuesday morning, resulting in four to five feet of water flowing into three towns and endangering as many as 2,000 people, said Jeanne Beratta, spokeswoman for the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management.

"We're doing rescues by boat. We're doing rescues with large trucks. We're doing rescues all over those areas," Baratta told Good Morning America.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that the state "kind of took it in the neck worse than any other place," but praised Obama and his administration for how it has handled the crisis.

"[President Obama] called me last night around midnight to ask what else can be done," Christie told GMA. "I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this."

Other parts of the country were struggling with snow and blizzard conditions. West Virginia was under a blizzard warning and more than two feet of snow was reported in some parts of the states. More than 100,000 customers are without power.

Sandy also brought winter conditions from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, and into Ohio.

The former hurricane had joined forces with a cold front coming from the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland to dump snow on eight states. Davis, West Virginia has been blanketed with 17 inches of snow, which continued to fall into the early morning.

By Thursday, meteorologists predict up to three feet of snow was possible in higher elevations.

New York University Medical Center was among the millions left without power in the wake of Sandy. A full evacuation was under way after the hospital's back-up generators had failed.

Early Tuesday morning, approximately 200 patients had been evacuated by private ambulance with assistance from the FDNY.

John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Con Edison, said it was too soon to say when power could be restored and that inspectors would be out once it was daylight to assess the damage.

Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm shortly before it made landfall at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City, N.J., on Monday.

By late Tuesday evening, Sandy remained a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Though it was weakening over Pennsylvania, it churned up the waters of the Great Lakes, prompting gale warnings and small craft advisories in some locations, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states remained under flash flood watches and warnings.

"Sandy is expected to turn north across Western New York or Lake Erie ... and continue to move northward into Canada on Wednesday," the National Weather Service said in it's 11 p.m. ET briefing Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Al Gore: ‘Sandy’ a Symptom of Larger Climate Crisis

Heather Kennedy/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Former Vice President Al Gore warned in a blog post Tuesday that Hurricane Sandy is a, “disturbing sign of things to come” if the world doesn’t quit “dirty energy.”

Tuesday afternoon, with large swaths of the Northeast still swimming in the storm’s mess, the Current TV founder and environmental activist published a statement asking the public to, "heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis."

"Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis," Gore wrote. "As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy’s storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse.”

Gore isn’t the only politician tying Sandy's wrath to global climate change.

"What’s clear is that the storms that we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a briefing Tuesday. "Whether that's global warming or what, I don't know. But we'll have to address those issues.”

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an early favorite in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, expressed similar concerns, quipping that New Yorkers, "have a 100-year flood every two years now."

Cuomo also suggested the state could look into the construction of levees to prevent future flooding.

"It is something we're going to have to start thinking about," Cuomo told reporters. "The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level.”

Gore made some headlines after the first presidential debate when he blamed President Obama’s muted performance on a different kind of change in the climate.

"I'm going to say something controversial here," he said to his Current TV roundtable-mates. "Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today -- just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust -- I don't know…”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Superstorm Sandy Deaths: 2 NY Boys Killed by Downed Tree

File Photo - Matthew Fiasconaro/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A community in Westchester County, N.Y., is in mourning Tuesday after two boys, ages 11 and 13, were killed when a tree downed during Sandy struck the suburban house where they were hunkered down.

"It's just a tragic, tragic accident, and it could have been anybody's kids," Investigator Brian Dedusevic of State Police Troop K in Somers told ABC News.

Neighborhood pals Jack Baumler, 11, and Michael Robson, 13, died Monday night when a nearly 100-foot oak tree crashed into the family room of the Baumler home, in North Salem, N.Y., Dedusevic told ABC News.

"Heaven got two all-stars too soon," Daniel Seymour, Jack Baumler's uncle, told the Journal News from outside his North Salem home Tuesday.

"Our faith will comfort us. North Salem has a huge heart, and this community wraps its arms around this family. We're asking for prayers and privacy," he said.

New York State police in Somers, N.Y. arrived at the home shortly after 7:20 p.m. Monday in North Salem and found that the massive oak had crashed into the home, striking and killing the boys.

"I believe the boys died instantly," Dedusevic said.

The accident, which Dedusevic said he believes was likely caused by high winds and wet soil, also injured two other minors, ages 15 and 12, according to the New York State Police.

The injured 15-year-old was Michael Robson's 15-year-old sister Caitlyn Robson, according to state police. She was treated for scrapes at the scene by responding EMS personnel, but suffered no serious injuries. She and her brother were friends from a neighboring residence, police said.

Jack Baumler's 12-year-old brother William was at the house as well. He also survived with only minor scrapes and was treated at scene. Their mother Valerie was also home at the time but not injured, according to Dedusevic.

"A lot more of stuff could have happened with the winds and weather that we experienced. And it picked two innocent kids," he said. "It's very hard to swallow."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Sandy Aftermath: Ruptured Gas Lines Worry Seaside Heights, New Jersey

Mario Tama/Getty Images(SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J.) -- Aside from widespread power outages and flooding that is reaching doorsteps, residents stranded in Seaside Heights, N.J., are worried about another danger: ruptured gas lines.

Locals told Nightline anchor Terry Moran that they had been told there is a concern that the slightest spark could set the town ablaze.

Moran, who canoed to the beach because the storm surge from Sandy was so high, said he could smell gas and oil coming from the standing flood waters and reported that dozens of people who rode out the storm in their homes were waiting to be evacuated.

“They are scared, they are cold, it’s getting cold, there’s no power here, and the evacuations have not really done much to clear the town,” Moran said.

Seaside Heights is a barrier island on the New Jersey shore, connected to the mainland by bridges on Route 35 and Route 37. It’s about 62 miles north of Atlantic City, which lost much of its iconic boardwalk as the storm surge from Sandy tore through.

The rides at Funtown Pier, the amusement park in Seaside Heights, are under water, and much of the town’s boardwalk is in ruins. Boats and pieces of docks float down the town’s streets.

Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm shortly before it made landfall at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City on Monday, but that didn’t stop it from wreaking havoc. The National Weather Service estimated that up to a foot of rain fell across southern New Jersey overnight and winds peaked at 77 mph in Atlantic City.

On Tuesday night, parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast remain under flash flood watches and warnings. Sandy killed at least 35 people in seven states and left more than 8 million customers without electric power.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

Tropical Storm Isaac Leaves More Than 700K Without Power

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- More than 700,000 people have been left without power in four states as Isaac, now a tropical storm, continues to pummel the Gulf Coast with rain and maximum sustained winds of 70 mph.

Forecasters at NOAA are warning that Isaac could create "life-threatening hazards from storm surge and inland flooding as it moves slowly across southeastern Louisiana."

An unofficial rainfall total of 22.5 inches was reported in Arabi, La., near the city's 9th Ward. An official report from Audubon Park in New Orleans listed 17 inches of rainfall.

Three helicopters were in the New Orleans area in case residents needed to be rescued from floodwaters. Each crew was equipped with hoist capability and a rescue swimmer, according to Coast Guard officials.

Hurricane Isaac weakened into a tropical storm Wednesday afternoon -- but not before its powerful storm surge overtopped levees, raising water levels as far as 314 miles up the Mississippi River.

Hurricane warnings were discontinued as the storm moved northwest at 6 mph. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Cameron, La., to the Alabama and Florida border.

Despite the downgrade, forecasters said Isaac wasn't running out of steam just yet.

Six- to 12-foot storm surges were expected in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana, with seven to 14 inches of rainfall.

The Central Gulf Coast region and part of the Lower Mississippi Valley could experience tornados through Thursday.

Isaac, which at its peak was a weak Category 1 hurricane, showed storm surge heights more characteristic of a strong Category 2 storm. The hurricane overtopped levees, knocked down trees and cut power to 716,068 in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi

There were no reports of injuries but dozens of residents of Plaquemines Parish, La., were stranded atop a levee, while there were multiple reports of people trapped in attics by rising waters.

As of mid-afternoon, fewer people had been evacuated than during Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans seven years ago Wednesday.

A total of 56 parishes in Louisiana declared states of emergency, according to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who added that there was a breakaway of a non-federal levee on the East Bank in Plaquemines Parish. The parish had a mandatory evacuation at noon Tuesday. Officials were considering conducting an intentional breach to release some of the water at that levee.

Thousands who live in the area were stuck in their homes or attics, and rescuers were out in boats helping those who needed it most.

There were 19 parishes included in the federal disaster declaration, while approximately 8,200 national guardsmen were available to help with search-and-rescue efforts, according to Gov. Jindal. There were 4,130 people in shelters across the state -- 730 in state-run shelters and 3,237 evacuees in parish-run shelters, according to Jindal.

In advance of the storm, Louisiana set up shelters and stockpiled more than a million packaged meals, 1.4 million bottles of water and 17,000 tarps.

Since the levees failed in Katrina seven years ago, more than $14 billion has been spent on the 133 miles of floodwalls, spillways, gates and pumps surrounding New Orleans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug292012

Louisiana Father-Son Team Rescues 120 from Flooding

ABC News(BRAITHWAITE, La.) -- Residents of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana were shocked by Hurricane Isaac Wednesday morning when ocean water burst over the Mississippi River levee, covering their town and leaving thousands trapped in attics and on roofs.

Jesse Shaffer, 25, and his father, also named Jesse Shaffer, 53, both of Braithwaite, La., stayed behind in their town to rescue their friends.

While police and the fire department were unable to reach some stranded people using their vehicles, the Shaffers were able to save lives using boats.

"We rescued a lot of people, saw a lot of things you never thought you'd see," the older Shaffer told ABC News, beginning to cry.

Each Shaffer controlled a boat, in which the pair saved a combined 120 people in 12 hours, as well as animals.

Their rescue mission began at 5 a.m. Wednesday at a local auditorium, where they rescued 10 people, including a baby and an elderly man, they said. The Shaffers had to break through the attic ventilation system to reach the victims.

"They'd call me and didn't know the water was coming up until it was late, and they'd call me to come get them," the older Shaffer said. "We had to scramble and try to find a boat 'cause none of the sheriff's department or anybody could come to this end of the parish."

The Shaffers rescued a family of five, including three children under the age of 6, from the roof of their trailer home just minutes before water overtopped it. The rescue was the older Shaffer's most memorable of the day.

"They were all on there, screaming their lungs out," he said.

The rapid rate at which water gushed over the 18-mile levee into their town was "unexpected," the younger Shaffer said. As of Wednesday morning, their home had 12 feet of water in it and they had to stash their belongings in the attic, which was then flooded. Water rose six inches every four minutes, the older Shaffer said.

"There were a lot of houses we saw that were in spots that we know where they're supposed to be and they were maybe a half a mile down the road, floating down the highway," the older Shaffer said.

The Shaffers fought through debris, rough water, wind and downed power lines to save their stranded friends.

The older Shaffer insisted they are not heroes and they were never afraid.

"I guess we were just going on adrenaline," the younger Shaffer said.

But the most emotional part of their day was not the difficulty of their rescue mission, but the thought of knowing their town has to rebuild.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May282012

Tropical Storm Beryl Makes Landfall in Florida

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) -- Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall near Jacksonville, Fla. shortly after midnight on Monday with top winds of 70 miles an hour.

On land, the highest wind gusts were 73 mph in Mayport Fla. just east of Jacksonville.

Beryl is expected to dump about six inches of rain as it moves inland over the next couple of days in the southeast portion of the U.S., according to Navy hurricane specialist Dave Roberts at the National Hurricane Center.

Forecasters predict the storm surge and tide will cause significant coastal flooding in northeastern Florida, Georgia and southern South Carolina.

A tropical storm warning remained in effect early Monday for coastal areas of Florida and South Carolina, and it was expected to tangle holiday traffic after forcing the cancellation of some events and causing shoreline campers to pack up and head inland.

There have been many reports of trees and power lines down throughout the area, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather system is expected to continue dumping rain over parts of Florida and Georgia on Monday.

It is expected to weaken as it moves inland and become a tropical depression by Monday night, and then moves out to sea.

So far more than 20,000 people without power from Savannah, Ga. to Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, Fla.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged Florida residents in the affected areas to "stay alert and aware."

Beryl has already spoiled Memorial Day festivities for many and is expected to snarl traffic as the holiday weekend comes to a close. People visiting Cumberland Island, Ga. were ordered to leave ahead of the storm on Sunday afternoon. A jazz event was canceled in Jacksonville, Fla.

This is the earliest since 1908 that two named storms have formed in the Atlantic Ocean. Tropical Storm Alberto was the first system to form earlier this month.

While the southeast is dealing with rain and high winds, the northeast dealt with a heat wave over the holiday weekend with temperatures in the mid 80s and 90s.

Over the weekend, almost 200 record highs reported around the country including 100 degrees in Tallahassee, Fla.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Sep032011

Tropical Storm Lee: New Orleans Residents Brace for Rain, Flooding

Stockbyte/Thinkstock (NEW ORLEANS) -- Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Lee pounded the Gulf Coast Saturday as it approached New Orleans—bringing as much as 20 inches of rain and testing the strength of the levees that failed six years ago.

The rain has been relentless, coming down nonstop since Friday morning along with winds gusting as high as 40 mph.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect from Pascagoula, Miss., across the coast to Sabine Pass, Texas.

A number of tornado watches and warnings were in effect in the area though none have been reported thus far.

In South Mississippi, Kazimier Buryn is one of many racing the clock to get everything they need before the storm touches down.

"You're better off to have stuff that you don't need instead of wishing that you had gone and done something about it when it's too late," Buryn said.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency in ten parishes.

"The bottom line for folks is to know regardless of what they call it, if you live in south Louisiana, especially southeast Louisiana, you are going to see a lot of rain between now and Tuesday," Jindal said.

The storm is expected to make landfall into the state's central coast late Saturday and make its way toward New Orleans.

National Hurricane Center hurricane specialist Eric Blake said it doesn't matter where the storm lands because the effects will be felt to the same extent and in the same places regardless.

"Tropical storm force winds and heavy rains are spread out all the way from Louisiana to Alabama and almost into northwest Florida," Blake said.

Louisiana residents are not taking any chances.

They are sandbagging, cleaning out storm drains and getting ready for torrential rain.

New Orleans could get as much as 20 inches of rain, putting the city at risk for major flooding.

"In other communities when the storm surge comes in, it comes in and it goes out. Here, it comes in, it has to be pumped out because we're in a bowl,” said John Young, Jefferson Parish president.

It was six years ago almost to the day that Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans.

Pump operators are working overtime until the storm system passes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

State of Emergency Declared in Louisiana ahead of Storm

File photo. Burton McNeely/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- With the threat of a tropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico that could bring upwards of a foot of rain this Labor Day holiday weekend to Southern U.S. cities like New Orleans, the governor of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency in advance of potential flooding.

The system, known as Tropical Depression 13, is currently south of Louisiana and is expected to move slowly north, making landfall in the state sometime Sunday late afternoon or evening as a tropical storm packing winds up to 60 miles per hour.  Should that happen, it would be named Tropical Storm Lee.

The storm is forecast to bring torrential rainfall to cities like New Orleans, where some areas just south of the city could see up to 20 inches of rain.  The amount of rain will depend on how long the storm sits in the area.

A tropical storm warning has been issued for New Orleans, as well as for other parts of Louisiana, and for parts of Mississippi and Texas.

Meanwhile, Katia remains a tropical storm and is not expected to pick up much strength on Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is not forecast to make landfall near the U.S. this weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

Katia Becomes Second Hurricane of 2011 Atlantic Season

NOAA/National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center(MIAMI) -- Katia, which earlier this week was named a tropical storm off the West African coast, has picked up enough strength to become the second hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season.

The storm developed into a category 1 hurricane Wednesday night with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour.  It is currently more than 1,000 miles east of the Leeward Islands and is moving west/northwest at 20 miles per hour.

Hurricane Katia is projected to steer clear of the Caribbean Islands and could pick up considerable strength by the week's end.

"We are expecting strengthening over the next couple of days and it could become a major hurricane or category 3 strength by the weekend," says Hurricane Specialist Daniel Brown at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

But, as Brown says, "it's a little too early to know whether or not it could threaten the United States."

Another system, however, could pose a threat to the southeastern region of the country.  The National Hurricane Center says "a large area of cloudiness and thunderstorms over the eastern Gulf of Mexico" could develop into a tropical depression.  The system also has a 60 percent chance of developing into what would be Tropical Storm Lee in the next two days, the hurricane center said on Thursday.

Should this system strengthen, it could bring heavy rain to New Orleans and northern Florida over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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