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7:39 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Parts Of Manhattan Go Dark As Sandy Rolls Through

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 7:40 pm

Transcript

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The storm on the East Coast is making a devastating impression on New York City. Storm surge coupled with a high tide have swelled the water to record levels in some places that includes Battery Park, and now, reports of flooding in the subway and in automotive tunnels.

NPR's Margot Adler joins us from New York with more details. And, Margot, what can you tell us about these reports of flooding?

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Well, first of all, we've been hearing that there are something like a 13-foot surge at Battery Park. And there was a report in The Wall Street Journal, probably online, that seawater has entered both subway tunnels - basically subway and tunnels - and that it might take a week for them to reopen them - that report came out. The MTA countered with another report saying, we don't know. We have no idea if it will take a week. We have no idea what's going on, et cetera, et cetera.

Meanwhile, at the same time, there have been all kinds of tweets on television shows and everywhere else showing pictures of various scenes of flooding - cars in one or two feet of water, whole streets looking like lakes - this has been all over the place.

Meanwhile, the state office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services - not the city, but the state one - has reported that there have been five deaths in New York state so far. They do not have any information yet about the cause of those deaths - whether they were flooding, how they related to the storm - but they say there are, in fact, five deaths.

SIEGEL: Margot, what's the power situation? I understand there are a lot of outages because of storm damages and also some because of deliberate cutoffs by Con Edison.

ADLER: Absolutely. The figures we're seeing are all over the map. There's an AP story that says that 3.1 million people have lost power, but most of the numbers we're seeing are more like 600,000, 850,000. Now the ones that are deliberate as far as Con Edison cutting power lines because it is worried of saltwater damage that could damage the lines forever, that's only about 6,500 people, and it's supposedly only in lower Manhattan and maybe in some parts of Brooklyn.

But the truth is, is that we here at NPR, in the bureau, are now operating on generator power. Actually, the lights completely went out. Everything was fine as far as television - I mean, television, telephone, et cetera, but the lights went out, and we were told that we were on generator power.

SIEGEL: We should say that the bureau is on 42nd Street near 5th.

ADLER: Right. So it's not...

SIEGEL: We're not talking about the boardwalk here, yeah.

ADLER: We're not downtown. Right. We're not downtown, you know? So the fact that we were plunged into that is kind of - is very, very interesting. And it's really unclear. But as I said, the figures that we're seeing are all over the map. Now, a Con Ed spokesperson was on television literally, you know, minutes ago, saying that the numbers were closer to 500,000. But, you know, I don't know what to say at this point.

SIEGEL: And what about evacuations? We heard that as many as 375,000 people had been urged to evacuate their neighborhoods. Do you get the sense that New Yorkers complied with that today before nightfall?

ADLER: Absolutely not. I get the sense that maybe 60, 70 percent did not, in fact, evacuate, although we don't have hard numbers, and only about 3,000 or 4,000 went to the shelters. And I think it has a lot of reasons. One of them is that people remembered Irene. There was all that preparation for Irene and it sort of bypassed New York City. And I also think there's, you know, people who just don't trust the government telling them what to do, and they have decided they know better.

SIEGEL: OK. NPR's Margot Adler in New York City on reports of flooding there and also, of course, the power outages.

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