New York stalled by Sandy

‘Frankenstorm’ Sandy slammed into states on the US eastern seaboard overnight, carrying record levels of floodwater, blacking out power to millions and bringing New York’s corporate infrastructure to a standstill.

Over a million people have been advised to evacuate low-lying areas in New York State and neighbouring New Jersey, with one forecasting company estimating economic losses and disaster recovery costs of $20bn.

Sandy, whose status was downgraded to just below hurricane levels on Monday, bought a record 14ft storm surge to downtown Manhattan, surpassing the 10ft surge measured during Hurricane Donna in 1960, according to the National Weather Service.

Jeffrey Tongue, meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York, said: “Hitting at high tide, the strongest surge and the strongest winds all hit at the worst possible time”.

Transportation was bought to a halt across much of the district as floodwater poured into the subway network, raising concerns that Wall Street and the surrounding financial centre could remain partially offline for days.

“The damage has been geographically very widespread throughout the entire subway, bus, LIRR (Long Island Railroad) and Metro North system, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo have closed offices and retail branches across the north east of the country.  Citibank spokesperson Shannon Bell claims the bank remains committed to providing an uninterrupted service, saying: “Citi has contingency plans in place, including locations that can be utilised to ensure continuity of operations.”

Wall Street traders Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citi are planning to shift their operations to back-up offices and trading floors in New Jersey and Connecticut, with essential staff bought in as necessary and many asked to work virtually from home.

Elsewhere, senior vice president of property group Lend Lease, Mary Costello, confirmed the partial collapse of a tower crane at the site of One57 in Manhattan.  The building is set to become one of the most expensive apartment buildings in New York upon completion, with a penthouse selling earlier this year for a reported $90m, according to the New York Times.

Photo: Lone Pedestrian in Times Square (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

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Steve Pizzuti

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