Big Apple has to evacuate 375,000 as Sandy sweeps in
East coast in chaos amid devastating floods and power cuts
Hurricane Sandy brought chaos to America's east coast, causing devastating flooding, the shutdown of several major cities and leaving almost 300,000 homes without power.
The gigantic weather system, which threatens to be the largest storm ever to hit the US mainland, strengthened as it brought winds of 144 kmh and sent a huge storm surge crashing into coastal towns and cities.
Much of Atlantic City in the state of New Jersey was under water well before Sandy even made landfall. Sea water rose over the bonnets of parked cars and the resort's famous boardwalk was repeatedly smashed.
On Long Beach Island, to the north, 25-foot swells surged into the streets and through the doors of local businesses.
New York City was on lockdown with hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, the subway closed, along with the United Nations and the New York Stock Exchange.
As water began splashing over the sea-walls in Manhattan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned: "Leave immediately. Conditions are deteriorating very rapidly, and the window for you getting out safely is closing. This is a storm that can easily kill you."
A crane dangled precariously from the top of a 90-storey apartment block after partially collapsing in high winds. It was hanging off an under-construction luxury high-rise called One57 which will include a six-bedroom penthouse costing $90m (€69m). In Maryland, the storm caused significant damage to a large fishing pier in the beach resort of Ocean City. Governor Martin O'Malley said the pier was "half-gone". He added: "There will undoubtedly be some deaths."
As it closed in on land, Sandy strengthened and stayed on a predicted path toward New York, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
Its wind field was 900 miles wide and moving north-west at 45 kmh. Hurricane-force winds extended an extraordinary 280km from its centre.
US President Barack Obama abandoned the campaign trail to head response efforts, and declared emergencies in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania,
Speaking from the White House, he urged people to evacuate to avoid "potentially fatal consequences".
Mr Obama said: "Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying. When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate.
"Do not delay, don't pause, don't question the instructions that are being given."
- Nearly 300,000 people were without power in seven states, including 92,000 in New Jersey.
- A total of 284,000 homes worth $87bn (€67bn) were said to be in Sandy's path.
- New York City was on lock down with 375,000 people evacuated from low-lying areas. The city feared a storm surge of as much as 11ft of water.
- There was travel chaos along the east coast with 11,000 flights grounded, stranding passengers from Hong Kong to Europe.
- Around 1,400 National guardsmen were deployed and 140 rescue helicopters were on standby.
- A replica of HMS Bounty, which featured in the Hollywood movie 'Mutiny on the Bounty', sank off North Carolina with two of the 16 crew left missing at sea.
- Extra inspectors were dispatched to US nuclear power plants in the path of the storm.
- Forecasters predicted the surge would be worse than Hurricane Irene last year, which caused $15bn (€12bn) damage. (© Daily Telegraph, London)