Hurricane Sandy chugged toward the East Coast on Sunday with such enormous size and force that public officials warned of the potential for widespread destruction and disruption for millions of people in its path.
From North Carolina to coastal Maine, public officials were urging residents to fortify themselves against a storm system expected to unleash torrential rains and damaging winds of up to 75 mph as far as 100 miles from the storm’s center.
As the storm’s leading edge approached the Mid-Atlantic region, its effect was already being felt. The federal government announced a shutdown on Monday, saying only emergency employees and those required to telework would be on duty. Maryland officials cancelled early voting. Several school districts called off classes on Monday, with Montgomery and Fairfax counties cancelling school through Tuesday.
"This is a serious, killer storm,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) said in an afternoon news conference. He urged residents to hunker down and prepare for what he and other officials expect to be extended days of power outages.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said the approaching storm was unlike any storm he had seen in 20 years.
Local residents boarded up windows and lined up to grab sandbags. Small areas of flooding had begun on Sunday in the Hampton Roads area and the beach at Virginia Beach was already covered in water. Late Sunday, Dominion Virginia Power reported that 3,000 customers had lost power in Hampton Roads area.
“This is going to be a long haul,” McDonnell said. “People are going to have to be patient.”
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered schools and public transportation systems closed, and a mandatory evacuation of thousands of residents in low-lying parts of the city.
Airlines cancelled scores of flights to and from Ronald Reagan National and Dulles International airports. And Amtrak halted most service in the northeast for Monday, shutting down the rail line between Washington and New York.