(NaturalNews) After making landfall in New Jersey and blowing through New York City, Hurricane Sandy, now defined as a cyclone by the National Weather Service, is moving inland - West - leaving behind death, destruction and chaos in some parts of the country.
"Floods and fires, seawater surges and electrical outages, fierce rains and lashing winds continued to pummel parts of the Northeast as Sandy continued its destructive march," the Los Angeles Times reported.
Damage and destruction caused by this "Frankenstorm" ranges from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean, authorities said Tuesday. It is a growing swath of devastation that has so far swallowed up transportation systems, power companies and other basic infrastructure in a number of major cities like NYC, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. In all, more than 16,000 flights have been canceled.
Throughout the day, Sandy continued to generate winds in excess of 80 mph. The storm is also still dumping more than a foot of rain and two feet of snow in some areas. "Many residents in coastal areas woke to both nasty winds and flash flooding from record surges pushed by the winds, high tides and a full moon," the Times said.
Authorities report 33 deaths related to this mega-storm so far, The Associated Press said. 10 of the dead were in NYC alone; three of the victims in The Big Apple were children.
Millions are now without power - 7.5 million, all told, from New England through the Mid-Atlantic states and parts of the Midwest, including Ohio and the more populous Northeast.
Financially, Sandy is a monster as well. Insurance analysts believe losses, which will include people who listened to officials and evacuated their homes, thereby skipping work, could top $20 billion.
Truly, the 'perfect storm'
Everything that is happening was bound to happen. When Sandy blew north from the Caribbean, she merged with a winter system coming from the West. Both were fueled by cold air from Canada, which created what many have dubbed a "super storm" of historic, once-in-a-lifetime proportions. Her impact, say meteorologists, was felt across a region 1,000 miles wide.
Sandy caused huge waves to crash into Chicago, while she toppled trees in Connecticut.
Rainfall reached as high as 11.5 inches in Wildwood Crest, N.J., as West Virginia received as much as one to two feet of snow in some places.
New York City has been especially hard hit. The city of nearly eight million people has seen Wall Street shut down for multiple days, its mass transit system is in a shambles, schools remain closed, hundreds of thousands are without power, and threats of rampant looting remain.
The scenes of destruction were shocking to city residents, many who awoke to fires that destroyed some 80 flooded homes in a neighborhood in Queens, to streets filled with slimy detritus caused by a 13-foot swell of seawater - three feet above previous records.
An explosion at a ConEdison substation - the local power company - left more than 250,000 people in Manhattan alone without electricity. Many people there were experiencing a siege mentality, as tunnels flooded and bridges were closed to outlying boroughs and neighboring New Jersey.
The NYC subway - parts of which are more than a century old - were closed for the second straight day, stranding commuters who still had jobs to go. Worse, transit officials say they have no idea when the system will be reopened; Fox News pointed out Monday evening that most of the city's mass transit/subway system runs on steel rails and lines, and that seawater is not kind to iron and steel.
Path of destruction
By Tuesday morning, flood waters in some neighborhoods that destroyed cars and left neighborhoods in shambles began to recede, but upon assessing the damage to above and below-ground transportation systems, city officials had to admit it appeared to be substantial and dramatic.
"It has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," Joseph J. Lhota, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman, said Tuesday as he answered questions of when the transit system, which is the lifeblood of a jam-packed metropolis, would be operational again.
It doesn't look good.
Lhota told reporters that Sandy "wreaked havoc" on the entire mass transit system, flooding at least seven subway tunnels. He pointed out that tracks along the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro North were blocked by tons of debris including trash and fallen trees.
Taken at the height of the storm surge, which meteorologists predicted would be record-setting, photographs and video footage "showed subway stations with water as high as the train platforms and gushing through doorways and around the turnstiles through which passengers swipe their metro cards," the L.A. Times said.
It took more than 190 firefighters to contain a blaze in the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens; by Tuesday, firefighters were still extinguishing pockets of that massive fire. Authorities have not said how it might have started.
Firefighters working the blaze said water in the streets was chest-high, adding they had to use boats to rescue people who had remained in their homes. In one apartment, they said, some 25 people were trapped in an upstairs unit; the two-story home right next door was on fire and setting fire to the roof of the apartment building.
There is also the ever-present threat of gang looting, which a number of reports have said are being actively planned on social media sites like Twitter.