Evacuations, shutdowns on East Coast before storm
By Michael Erman and Caroline Humer
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tens of millions of East Coast residents scrambled on Sunday to prepare for Hurricane Sandy, which could make landfall as the largest storm to hit the United States, bringing battering winds, flooding and even heavy snow.
The massive storm, which has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean, was headed toward a densely populated region that includes Washington, New York and Boston and its effects could be felt for hundreds of miles, officials warned.
It could be the largest storm to hit the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
New York and other big cities closed their transit systems and schools and ordered residents of low-lying areas to evacuate before a storm surge that could reach as 11 feet.
They warned that power outages could last for days.
"We're expecting the worst, hoping for the best. We're getting everything off the basement floor. We've got two sump pumps but during Hurricane Floyd, we were down there for 17 hours straight sweeping water into the sump pumps," said Maria Ogorek, a Maplewood, New Jersey, lawyer and mother of three.
The U.S. government said it had granted administrative leave to non-emergency federal workers in the Washington D.C area.
The New York Stock Exchange said it would close its trading floor on Monday for the first time since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. All stocks listed on the exchange will trade electronically, NYSE Euronext said. Continued...