NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that a backup generator at New York University hospital has failed, forcing patients to evacuate last night, the Associated Press reported. The hospital is near the East River, in an area of lower Manhattan that has been hit with major flooding and power outages.
CNN reported that 1,000 hospital staff and police had to help some 260 patients evacuate. NYU didn't anticipate the heavy floods and chose not to evacuate all its patients before the storm, as they did with Hurricane Irene last year. But between 7 and 7:45 p.m. Monday, the hospital's basement and elevator shafts began flooding with at least 10 feet of water, an official told CNN.
Nearly 50 of the patients were described as “critical” and were being taken to the Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reported. A second New York hospital, Bellevue Hospital Center, had a similar problem and also evacuated.
About 230,000 Con Edison customers in Manhattan lost power, and nearly 400,000 more customers in the outer boroughs and Westchester County are also stuck in the dark, NBC reported. Officials expect power to be lost for three to four days, making this one of the five largest blackouts in New York City history and the largest blackout ever caused by a storm.
Reuters witnessed 19 workers trapped in a Con Edison plant on the east side of Manhattan Monday night by rising floodwaters.
Worse, ABC uploaded footage last night (see below) of what appears to be a massive explosion, which they said occurred at a New York City Con Ed plant.
The superstorm also flooded parts of the New York City subway system, rail yards and bus depots, ABC reported, creating the biggest disaster for public transportation in the city in its 108 years of existence. "The New York City subway system…has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement. "Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region."
President Obama has declared New York and New Jersey as major disaster areas, which is an unusually early action, USA Today reported. In New York, "the President's action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens," an official announcement says.
So far Hurricane Sandy has left an estimated $20 billion in damages and at least 16 people in the US dead.