Watch live: Raw video of Hurricane Sandy from high above New York City
Crane Dangles from NYC High-Rise, Clearing Streets
AP PHOTO/CHARLES SYKES
Hurricane Sandy a Chance at Redemption for FEMA
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and ERIC LIPTON
Published: October 29, 2012
WASHINGTON — As Hurricane Sandy approached landfall Monday, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials here were struggling with the question of how to deploy resources in the face of a powerful, far-reaching storm that was bearing down on a string of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas.
Based on forecasts and calculations, the officials decided to focus their resources on the southern part of New Jersey, where they had hundreds of thousands of ready-to-eat meals and bottles of water and hundreds of staff members prepared to respond.
In Lakehurst, N.J., in the center of the state, in collaboration with the Defense Department, the agency had created an “incident support base,” where it had blankets, cots, diapers and generators, along with the meals and water. A similar center was set up at a military base in Chicopee, Mass., near Springfield.
Other federal departments, like Health and Human Services, stood by to help evacuate nursing homes and hospitals. The department also sent a 50-person medical team to New Jersey to provide backup if hospitals are overwhelmed. And the American Red Cross has hundreds of workers, who have set up shelters
In a news release on Monday night, FEMA provided its most comprehensive information about the response, saying that several search and rescue teams had been deployed to the Mid-Atlantic and that inspectors had been placed at all nuclear power plants that could be affected by the storm. The agency said that 139 ambulances had been positioned in New York and another 211 would soon be sent there.
FEMA, with the authorization of President Obama, had as of Monday afternoon declared a disaster in eight states and the District of Columbia, allowing them to begin to request assistance, before the worst of the storm hit.
Craig Fugate, the FEMA administrator, said the real challenge is waiting to see just where the storm hits the hardest and which communities need help.
FEMA has not seen a test on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, when delays in delivering emergency relief, failures in its communications system, and problems with the emergency housing program combined to produce widespread criticism.
Since then it has tried to strengthen its ability to respond to a major disaster, both by rebuilding its own supply management system and personnel, and by fostering stronger ties to outside parties, including the Defense Department and even the owners of big box retail stores, which Mr. Fugate said might be turned to as a backup for emergency supplies.
But FEMA still has some weaknesses — which could be exposed during this storm — including insufficient management of its disaster assistance employee program, according to an audit released this year by the Government Accountability Office, which found inconsistencies in how it hires and trains staff.
Senator Susan Collins, from Maine, said Monday in an interview that FEMA has more experienced leadership — for example, Mr. Fugate once led Florida’s emergency management agency — and it is doing a better job coordinating its response with local and state governments than in the past.
read more at http://www.nytimes.com
Hurricane Sandy blows away campaign plans
Both candidates abandon the campaign trail, as President Obama focuses on emergency response and Mitt Romney urges supporters to give aid. But it's unclear how the storm will sway voters.
People in Youngstown, Ohio, line up for a campaign rally with former President Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. (John Moore, Getty Images / October 29, 2012)
There has never been anything like it in modern American history, a natural disaster so massive and so close to election day, and for all their minutely-plotted moves there was nothing for the candidates and their strategists to do but improvise and hope for the best.
President Obama scrapped a campaign appearance in Orlando, Fla., and hurried back to Washington to oversee the emergency response to Hurricane Sandy. Speaking to reporters at the White House, he brushed aside questions about the political implications.
"I'm not worried, at this point, about the impact on the election," he said. "I'm worried about the impact on families. I'm worried about the impact on our first responders. I'm worried about the impact on our economy and on transportation. The election will take care of itself next week."
His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, sought a balance between political imperative and concern for others. Campaigning in northeastern Ohio, he said a win in that Midwestern battleground state would ensure victory next Tuesday.
"We're counting on Ohio," he said in a stop outside Cleveland. But so are others, he said, urging supporters to donate to the Red Cross or find other ways to give. "The people in Ohio have big hearts, so we're expecting you to follow through and help out," he said before moving on to a stop in Iowa.
Obama abandoned his campaign schedule for Tuesday and may do so beyond that. Romney planned a "storm relief event" in Kettering, Ohio, where he earlier advertised a campaign stop. Both suspended fundraising emails in a broad area affected by the storm.
But their TV ads blazed on, creating a jarring juxtaposition as the heat of the campaign butted against the sober warnings of emergency officials and scenes of flooding and other damage from Hurricane Sandy.
"In what was already becoming perhaps the most unpredictable election we've had in a generation, this adds one more level of unpredictability," said Paul Maslin, a Democratic pollster in Wisconsin, another of the home-stretch battlegrounds.
History suggests a few things. Fairly or not, Obama was treading the highest wire, since he is the face of Washington's response. He will be measured over the next week in a way he has not been up to now.
read more at http://www.latimes.com
Hurricane Sandy: More than 225,000 lose power in Connecticut
Thousands of Con Edison customers lose power due to Hurricane Sandy through New York City and Westchester County
Con Edison opted to pull the plug because the “storm surge threatened to flood the underground electrical delivery system,” according to a statement.
JOHN TAGGART FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Hurricane Sandy: More than 2 million already without power
Hurricane Sandy wreaks havoc on small businesses
NEW YORK - Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on small businesses along the East Coast Monday, keeping employees and customers away.
At Angelo's Civita Farnese, a restaurant in Providence, R.I., the lunchtime crowd didn't materialize and few customers were expected for dinner. By 12:30 p.m. — hours before the worst of the storm was expected to hit — there were about 10 customers inside, and owner Bob Antignano had no hopes of getting the usual 200 to 250 he usually serves for lunch. He had a smaller staff prepare fewer meals than usual, but most of the food was going to have to be donated to charity.
"It's a wasted day and it looks like tomorrow probably will be as well," Antignano said.
For many small businesses, opening depended on whether employees lived close by or could work remotely. Businesses vulnerable to wind and water damage and power outages were forced to close. The storm also ruined business trips, meetings and presentations.
Antignano serves between 400 and 500 meals a day between lunch and dinner. The loss of two days' revenue will wipe out his profit for the month. He would suffer losses if the restaurant lost power. He would have to close, and the food in his walk-in refrigerator and freezers could spoil.
The storm also created woes for small business owners based in other parts of the country.
read more at http://www.cnbc.com/id/49602412