A powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake set off a tsunami that killed at least five people in a remote part of the Solomon Islands on Wednesday and triggered evacuations across the South Pacific as island nations issued tsunami alerts.
The quake struck 340 km (211 miles) east of Kira Kira in the Solomons, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said as it issued warnings for the Solomons and other South Pacific nations including Australia and New Zealand. It later canceled the warnings for the outlying regions.
A tsunami measuring 0.9 metres (three feet) hit near the town of Lata on the remote Santa Cruz island, swamping some villages and the town's main airport as people fled to safety on higher ground.
More than three dozen aftershocks up to magnitude 6.6 rocked the region in the hours after the quake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Diane Sawyer and ABC News report as Hurricane Sandy hits the eastern coast of the United States.
For the last 30 years New York officials were warned of a storm of historic proportions that could flood the subways, create widespread power outages, and hit the Rockaways peninsula especially hard. A 2006 report read: “It’s not a question of whether a strong hurricane will hit New York City. It’s just a question of when.” But tight budgets meant the warnings went unheeded—and when Hurricane Sandy hit, many of the problems were dealt with on the fly. “I don’t know that anyone believed it,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Associated Press. “We had never seen a storm like this. So it is very hard to anticipate something that you have never experienced.”
"It wasn't as if the legislative actions over the years were subtle. They all had a common, emphatic theme: Act immediately before it's too late.
The 1978 executive law required a standing state Disaster Preparedness Commission to meet at least twice a year to create and update disaster plans. It mandated the state to address temporary housing needs after a disaster, create a detailed plan to restore services, maintain sewage treatment, prevent fires, assure generators "sufficient to supply" nursing homes and other health facilities, and "protect and assure uninterrupted delivery of services, medicines, water, food, energy and fuel."
Reports in 2005, 2006 and 2010 added urgency. "It's not a question of whether a strong hurricane will hit New York City," the 2006 Assembly report warned. "It's just a question of when."
A 2010 task force report to the Legislature concluded: "The combination of rising sea level, continuing climate change, and more development in high-risk areas has raised the level of New York's vulnerability to coast storms. ... The challenge is real, and sea level rise will progress regardless of New York's response."'
New York City had taken some concrete steps, such as requiring some new developments in flood zones to be elevated, eliminating roadblocks to putting boilers and electrical equipment above the ground and restoring wetlands as natural storm-surge barriers.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a recent speech that the city wasn't expecting Sandy, and that FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) had estimated only a one percent chance that NYC would see the water levels that came in with the storm. NYC is now reassessing safety measures, including an engineering analysis to determine if levees or other structures are needed to prevent flooding in the future.
Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction in its wake on Tuesday, October 30, as it moved inland after battering the US northeast coastline. This video shows the devastation in Seaside Heights, in New Jersey, as a National Guard helicopter flies overhead searching for displaced residents on Tuesday.
The official death toll in the U.S. from the superstorm Sandy climbed to 33 by Tuesday, with most of the fatalities being attributed to falling trees. Outside the U.S., one person was killed in Canada and 67 in the Caribbean, including 51 in Haiti. The storm weakened as it made its way west through the U.S., but still dropped three to four inches of snow in West Virginia, where one storm chaser called it a “nor’easter on steroids.” Wind and rain also damaged the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the storm was centered about 90 miles west of Philadelphia, with winds of about 65 miles per hour.
14th St. NYC Con Ed Coal Plant (Or the substation, conflicting reports) explodes.
In a press conference in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the storm’s destruction will be felt for quite some time, and it might be the worst the worst the city’s ever experienced. He said that the death toll in the city is at 10, but the number is expected to rise. The main priorities are getting the subway system up and running and restoring power, which may take three to four days. Bridges are being cleared and reopened. Con Ed says there has been “unprecedented damage” and there are approximately 750,000 New Yorkers without power.
Long line of ambulances outside the NYU Medical Center. Via @bananarams.
New York City’s transit chief called Hurricane Sandy the most “devastating” event to the city’s subway system ever while the rest of the city reeled from the storm early Tuesday morning. As of Monday night, seven subway tunnels under the East River had flooded, as did the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joseph Lhota said there is “no firm timeline” for when the system would be back up and running, even as nearly every bridge and tunnel out of Manhattan was closed down. A backup electrical system failed New York University Medical Center, one of the city’s best hospitals, forcing the evacuation all 215 patients in the strong wind gusts. Meanwhile, a six-alarm fire at Breezy Point in southern Queens had destroyed 50 houses, with 198 firefighters fighting the blaze.
The New York City skyline with power out compared to a normal shot. Via the AP.
• NEW YORK: Mandatory evacuation in Zone A. MTA suspends subway and bus service. Public schools closed on Monday. NYSE suspends operation on Monday, likely Tuesday as well. Pres. Obama declares state of emergency.
• NEW JERSEY: NJ transit shut down across the state. Schools closed in over 250 counties. Barrier islands evacuated (evacuation routes). Pres. Obama declares state of emergency.
• PENNSYLVANIA: SEPTA suspends services. Flights in, out of Philadelphia Int'l Airport cancelled for Monday. Pres. Obama declares state of emergency.
• DELAWARE: Level 2 driving restriction starts Monday at 5am ET, bans anyone from driving on the road except "essential personnel" (read more).