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Americas

Big Apple wakes up to eerie post-Sandy Halloween

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-10-31

New York City was slowly recovering after superstorm Sandy spread chaos across the metro area. But much of the city remained shuttered and the trail of devastation left by the storm threatened to damper the Halloween holiday.

Order was slowly being restored in the city of New York on Wednesday after superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc across the metropolitan area, but much of the Big Apple remained uncharacteristically out of service on the day Halloween is traditionally celebrated.

The holiday is a time for costumed parties and door-to-door “trick or treating” by youngsters, but schools and banks in the United States usually remain open for the October 31 feast of “all hallows eve”.

Neither business nor revelry was the first thing on New Yorker’s mind a day after the hurricane dubbed “Frankenstorm” threw up giant sea waves, sparked blazes, and tore down power lines and building facades. Officials said 18 people died citywide as a result of the storm.

As in the rest of the Northeast US, some companies, markets and airports were expected to slowly reopen, but New York City was still facing grim projections of power and mass transit outages for several more days.

Lower Manhattan remained in the dark after a transformer explosion at a electrical sub-station on Monday night; many residents faced the added burden of having their water cut off.

Transportation authorities announced New York’s subways and commuter trains remained suspended, but said bus services would attempt to operate on a normal schedule and – as was the case on Tuesday – pick up passengers for free.

With the exception of the Queens Midtown tunnel, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said all the city’s major bridges and tunnels were open and experiencing good service.

The city’s department of education – the largest system of schools in the United States – kept public school doors shut. It said all after-school activities and sports events it coordinates were also cancelled.

Traders of the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, nevertheless, were ready to hit trading floors on Wednesday morning after a historic two-day closure.

Tourism spotty

The Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan was reopening at 8am on Wednesday, with the building’s operators saying the famous landmark would be completely ready to welcome visitors to its observation deck.

The Statue of Liberty, the iconic sculpture adorning New York Harbor, and the Ellis Island museum were to remain closed to at least Saturday as crews cleaned and assessed the damage left by Sandy.

Central Park officials asked people to remain out of the park until further notice so staff could clear fallen debris. They said the city’s largest green space had sustained significant damage, with at least 250 large trees uprooted or compromised. Workers would focus clean-up efforts on Wednesday on the East Drive and Central Park West, where downed trees blocked paths.

The city’s theatre district was back in business, with most of New York's Broadway shows scheduled to take to stage again on Wednesday, the Broadway League said.

Air travel officials expected John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens and Newark International Airport in Newark, New Jersey to accept limited arriving and departing flights on Wednesday. However, LaGuardia Airport, also in Queens, was still closed.

New York City Marathon organizers continued to plan for Sunday's world-famous race but it was unsure if the city would be ready to host the 50,000 registered runners so quickly after Sandy.

“The city is rightfully focused on assessment, restoration and recovery,” New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said in a statement.

Trick or treat?

“NYC will be safe on Halloween but some traffic signals are still dark. Use good judgment & be careful with young trick-or-treaters,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his Twitter account on Tuesday evening.

With some city neighbourhoods struggling with the damage caused by flooding and fires, many parents were expected to keep candy-eager children indoors.

Meanwhile, police and organizers of New York's famously colourful Halloween parade called off this year's event, planned for Wednesday at 7pm.

“For the first time in our 39-year history, the mayor's emergency management and the NYPD have cancelled the parade,” organizers said in a statement on their website.

Mayor Bloomberg, however, said the parade will still be held at an unspecified later date. “We’ll work tomorrow and figure out what date makes sense, given the resources the city has,” he added.

Date created : 2012-10-31

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