NEW YORK—Sandy, an 800-mile wide “superstorm,” slammed the East Coast Monday, shutting down some of the largest cities in the United States and leaving a trail of flood and wind damage. So far the storm has killed at least 20 people in the United States, 10 in New York alone.
The skyline of New York went dark Monday night, as Sandy blasted through and exploded a power substation in Manhattan. The storm surge brought the evening high tide to record heights, submerging many parts of lower Manhattan. Cars floated down streets, and the alarms of submerged vehicles blared through the night. The only lights in many neighborhoods were blinking emergency vehicles. The New York subway system closed and tunnels flooded, which could halt transportation in and out of the city for days or even weeks. Floodwaters crept over the runways at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports and airways emptied over the Northeast. Railways to New Jersey flooded and Amtrak suspended its Northeast service. Overnight a fire raged in a flooded part of Queens and demolished 80 houses, but New York firefighters contained the blaze even amid flood conditions.
Tuesday morning New York awoke with its trademark resilience, though millions in the city had lost power and property. Restaurants and grocery stores that had power and minimal damage reopened and bustled even while the city’s major financial sector, including the New York Stock Exchange, remained closed. Stir-crazy from the storm, children ran down the sidewalks. The city government’s website for registering to volunteer with cleanup (nycservice.org) went down due to heavy traffic.
And Tuesday morning the city’s churches assembled to begin relief efforts. Hope for New York, a nonprofit affiliate of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, is helping coordinate relief efforts between churches and nonprofit groups, posting needs on its website (hfny.org/hurricane). All Angels Church on the Upper West Side requested hygiene kits and blankets. New York City Relief asked for clothing and food. Other churches in Queens sent out foot patrols to check on their neighbors.
“This is the time for the church to respond and to serve our city as Christ has so well served us,” wrote Apostles Church NYC on its website Tuesday, enumerating ways for parishioners to help.
Churches planned relief efforts even as they bailed out their own buildings. In Queens Tuesday morning, members of Trinity Grace Church helped clean out the flooded church offices at Skyline City Church. World Vision reported that its storehouse in the Bronx flooded, damaging a “great deal of assets.”
The Bowery Mission, a Christian group that primarily serves the homeless in the city, opened its emergency shelter Monday to more than 150 needing a roof over their heads. The mission said Tuesday that it had lost power and its food pantry was dwindling—but the mission has tripled its normal capacity.