Malacanang extends sympathies to Superstorm Sandy victims-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
MANILA -- Malacañang extended on Tuesday its sympathies to the victims of Superstorm Sandy, which caused flooding and massive power outages in the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
As Superstorm Sandy churned slowly inland, millions along the US East Coast awoke Tuesday without power or mass transit, and huge swaths of New York City were eerily quiet.
At least 18 people were killed in seven states.
“As Sandy batters the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, we extend our sympathies and support to all those affected by this calamity,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with hurricane force cut power to at least 7.4 million across the east and put the presidential campaign on hold just one week before Election Day.
New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day and seawater cascading into the still-gaping construction pit at the World Trade Center. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of New York's subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest US transit system would be rolling again.
But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived. Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.
A hoarse-voiced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: Seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state's barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water.
"It is beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," he said. "It is a devastating sight right now."
The death toll from Sandy in the US climbed to 18, including several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the eastern seaboard.
Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights. New York City's three major airports remained closed.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who are facing these difficult times, among them the Filipino-American community,” Valte said.
“The devastation caused by the storm continues to unfold, but we are confident that the resolve of the American people to overcome this catastrophe remains steadfast, strong, and unbending,” she said.
Malacanang has yet to receive reports of any Filipino-American casualty.
In his Twitter page, Foreign Affairs department spokesperson Raul Hernandez said that "neither the PH Embassy in WDC nor (the) PH Consulate General in New York has received any report of possible Filipino casualties."
Valte said the Philippine Government is ready to extend assistance to the US government if requested.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island, making federal funding available to residents of the area. He suspended campaigning again Tuesday.
Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled again Tuesday after the storm sent a nearly 14-foot (4.27-meter) surge of seawater, a record, coursing over its seawalls and highways and into low-lying streets.
The water inundated tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street and sent hospital patients and tourists scrambling for safety. Skyscrapers swayed and creaked in winds that partially toppled a crane 74 stories above Midtown. A large tanker ship ran aground on the city's Staten Island.
A fire raged in a city neighborhood Tuesday morning near the Atlantic Ocean, with 80 to 100 homes destroyed but no deaths reported.
In New Jersey, where the superstorm came ashore, a huge swell of water swept over the small town of Moonachie, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some of them living in a trailer park. Police and fire officials used boats to try to reach the stranded.
The massive storm reached well into the Midwest with heavy rain and snow. Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepared for winds of up to 60 mph (96 kph) and waves exceeding 24 feet (7.2 meters) well into Wednesday.
Curiosity turned to concern overnight as New York City residents watched whole neighborhoods disappear into darkness as power was cut. The World Trade Center site was a glowing ghost near the tip of Lower Manhattan. Residents reported seeing no lights but the strobes of emergency vehicles and the glimpses of flashlights in nearby apartments. Lobbies were flooded, cars floated and people started to worry about food.
As Sandy closed in on the Northeast, it converged with a cold-weather system that turned it into a monstrous hybrid of rain and high winds — even bringing snow in West Virginia and other mountainous areas inland.
Just before it made landfall, forecasters stripped Sandy of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature. It still packed hurricane-force winds.
While the hurricane's 90 mph (144 kph) winds registered as only a Category 1 on a scale of five, it packed "astoundingly low" barometric pressure, giving it terrific energy to push water inland, said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of meteorology at MIT.
"We are looking at the highest storm surges ever recorded" in the northeast, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director for Weather Underground, a private forecasting service.
New York University's Tisch Hospital was forced to evacuate 200 patients after its backup generator failed.
NYU Medical Dean Robert Grossman said patients — among them 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit who were on battery-powered respirators — had to be carried down staircases and to dozens of ambulances waiting to take them to other hospitals.
A construction crane atop a $1.5 billion luxury high-rise overlooking Central Park collapsed in high winds and dangled precariously. Thousands of people were ordered to leave several nearby buildings as a precaution.
The Philippine embassy in the United States has advised Filipino-American communities to become vigilant and take necessary precautions as the storm continues to wreak havoc.
In an advisory, Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia said Filipinos there should always heed the warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
"The Embassy reiterates the need for Filipinos, particularly in the New York and New Jersey areas, to continue to monitor the situation, stay indoors, avoid unnecessary travel until after US authorities declare that the danger posed by Superstorm Sandy is over," said Cuisia.
He noted how Sandy is expected to wreak havoc in the East Coast that will likely affect more than 60 million people, including an estimated 60,000 Filipino nationals.
In its latest advisory Monday night in the US, the envoy also stressed that the estimated 38,900 Filipinos in Ohio and Michigan should continue to monitor local media for storm-related announcements.
"Avoid the coastlines of the Great Lakes as Sandy is expected to make its way up the Northeastern United States after making landfall in New Jersey early this evening," said Cuisia.
The Philippine Embassy was also closed on Tuesday due to Superstorm Sandy.
Filipino community leaders are told that they could relay information and updates on Filipinos, who could have been displaced or affected in one way or another, through calling or texting the Philippine Embassy at 202-368-2767 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public is also advised to monitor the Embassy's website for the announcement of the resumption of normal operations. (AP/Jill Beltran/HDT/Sunnex)