New Yorkers Woke Up To Strangely Quiet City

New York City residents awoke to a changed world on Tuesday morning. From a massive fire in Queens to flooding in many quarters, the extent of the damage isn't yet clear.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish. And we begin this hour with Sandy by the numbers. At least 39 people on the East Coast have died, as a result of the massive storm.

SIEGEL: Sixty-nine are dead in the Caribbean.

CORNISH: Eight-point two million people, in the U.S., are without power.

SIEGEL: And while it's too early for an accurate tally, insured losses alone are estimated at 5- to $10 billion.

CORNISH: For two days, the New York Stock Exchange has been closed.

SIEGEL: 1888 was the last time weather shut down the exchange for two consecutive days.

CORNISH: Seventeen thousand flights have been canceled, so far, across the Northeast.

SIEGEL: And 14 feet of storm surge swamped Manhattan yesterday, handily beating the previous record of 10 feet.

CORNISH: We're going to focus our efforts now on the aftermath of that unprecedented surge. In a moment, we'll hear about New York's inundated subway system. But first, here's NPR's Margot Adler.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Millions of New Yorkers woke up this morning to a strangely quiet city; with stores shuttered, transportation halted, houses flooded, and some 2 million people without power. At a news conference today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he'd dealt with hurricanes, earthquakes - but nothing like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: The Hudson River, in downtown Manhattan, was literally pouring into the ground zero site with such a force that we were worried about the structure of the pit itself.

ADLER: He described water pouring into the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel like a river at high velocity. A little bit uptown, in the East Village - near Avenue C - Bill Raftu(ph) was surveying the damage to his dwelling.

BILL RAFTU: Water, and I still have water in the basement. It's all the way up to the ceiling.

ADLER: The storm caused about 23 serious fires. The worst fire was at Breezy Point, a beachfront community in Queens. The fire destroyed scores of houses. Mike Bracci(ph), a resident, said water was over 5 feet high.

MIKE BRACCI: Last night, there was a lot of people escaping the fire; coming through the water, holding children - face-high, coming down this road.

ADLER: On Long Island, 90 percent of the population lost power. Four hospitals have been evacuated. Parks are still closed. Fallen trees have crushed cars, and are responsible for at least one of New York City's deaths from the storm. At the end of his news conference, Gov. Cuomo said: I would like to say this is the last occurrence we will have. I don't believe that.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CONFERENCE)

CUOMO: Anyone who says there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns, I think is denying reality.

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