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Merrimack Valley

October 28, 2012

Superstorm threat spurs mass evacuations on East Coast

(Continued)

Masters said the storm could be bigger than the worst East Coast storm on record — the 1938 New England hurricane known as the Long Island Express, which killed nearly 800 people. “Part hurricane, part nor’easter — all trouble,” he said. Experts said to expect high winds over 800 miles and up to 2 feet of snow as well inland as West Virginia.

And the storm was so big, and the convergence of the three storms so rare, that “we just can’t pinpoint who is going to get the worst of it,” said Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Officials are particularly worried about the possibility of subway flooding in New York City, said Uccellini.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to prepare to shut the city’s subways, buses and suburban trains by today, but delayed making a final decision. The city shut the subways down before last year’s Hurricane Irene, and a Columbia University study predicted that an Irene surge just 1 foot higher would have paralyzed lower Manhattan.

Up and down the Eastern Seaboard and far inland, officials urged residents and businesses to prepare in big ways and little.

The Virginia National Guard was authorized to call up to 500 troops to active duty for debris removal and road-clearing, while homeowners stacked sandbags at their front doors in coastal towns.

Utility officials warned rains could saturate the ground, causing trees to topple into power lines, and told residents to prepare for several days at home without power. “We’re facing a very real possibility of widespread, prolonged power outages,” said, Ruth Miller, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Warren Ellis, who was on an annual fishing pilgrimage on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, didn’t act fast enough to get home.

Ellis’ 73-year-old father, Steven, managed to get off uninhabited Portsmouth Island near Cape Hatteras by ferry Friday. But the son and his 10-foot camper got stranded when high winds and surf forced the ferry service to suspend operations Saturday.

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