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As a strengthening Hurricane Sandy churns north, Here & Now drops in on Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated to avoid flooding in low-lying areas. Gov. Jack Markell is seeking a federal disaster declaration for the state, and has closed roads to everyone but essential personnel.
Marlee Wade of the Hampton Inn in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
“The wind is something fierce, the rain is coming down pretty hard, our whole lobby was flooded, so a crew of us were just outside digging trenches away from the building to get it out and put a sump pump out there trying to get the side of the building dry. It’s pretty crazy out here. “
Baltimore is opening six shelters; several city intersections are closed because of flooding threats. Early voting, which began Saturday and was to run through Thursday, was canceled for Monday. Ocean City, Maryland is facing flooding, and the iconic fishing pier has partially collapsed into the ocean.
Nancy Howard, former council member in Ocean City, Md.
“My concern is the beach, of course. We’ve spent millions of dollars over the past 25 years, keeping our beach wide and high. And thank God we did, because if we had an event like this without our beach replenishment, I venture to say Ocean City would be awash right now, and the bay and the ocean would be meeting.”
Many residents left low-lying flood evacuation zones, and the subway system shut down Sunday night. A storm surge of 11 feet is possible, the highest of all coastal areas being hit by Sandy. The New York Stock Exchange and other U.S. financial markets shut down for at least the day. Thousands of flights were canceled at the city’s major airports.
John Davitt, chief meteorologist for NY1 television news in New York City.
“There a lot of concerns for the subway system, especially lower Manhattan and the Wall Street area. We’re going to see another round of high tides tonight around 8:30. And when those hit, we’re probably going to see storm surges two to three feet above what we saw this morning, and two to three three feet above what we had with Hurricane Irene last year. Those subway stations have been sandbagged in an effort to try and keep the water out, but we think right now that the water’s probably going to go as far north as Water Street, once it overcomes the seawall there.”
Sandy’s center is expected to make landfall in New Jersey late Monday. By daybreak, thousands of homes and businesses were without electricity. Thousands of people evacuated low-lying areas, and many inland towns hit by flooding from storm Irene last year issued evacuation orders.
Phil Gregory, covers New Jersey for WHYY in Philadelphia
“Even though all of the barrier islands all the way from Sandy Hook down to Cape May were supposed to be evacuated, some people don’t want to leave. I ran into two women who were out walking their dogs in this thing this morning. One of them said, ‘Well my house is just recently renovated, I think it’s never flooded in the past, it’s probably a lot stronger now and I think I can ride this thing out with the help of some neighbors.'”
Utilities brought in crews from as far away as Texas and the Midwest to cope with anticipated power failures. Most schools and colleges have canceled classes. The Boston transit authority said it would continue to operate as long it was safe.
Steve Brown of WBUR in Boston, reporting from New Bedford, Mass.
“New Bedford has a large hurricane barrier – it’s a big gate – and the Army Corps of Engineers determines when the surge is [high] enough. Around 9 o’clock this morning, they decided to close that. So New Bedford harbor and all the fishing boats – the most lucrative fishing port in the United States – they’re all tied up nice and snug to the pier down there, and they’re not going anywhere.”