New York stories: Sandy leaves tales of heroism and tragedy

As the great clear-up begins on America’s east coast, here’s how some will remember the great storm

LAST UPDATED AT 13:43 ON Wed 31 Oct 2012

HURRICANE SANDY has now claimed the lives of 55 people in the US, 22 of them in New York. More than 760,000 New Yorkers are still in the dark as electricity providers scramble to repair power lines, but the New York Stock Exchange was expected to reopen today after a two-day closure.

  • A pregnant Brooklyn woman had to be given an epidural by candle-light yesterday when she and other patients were ordered to evacuate the New York University Langone maternity wing. Julia Alemany was about to give birth to her second child when the power failed, reports the Daily News. An anaesthetist agreed to give her an epidural – injected into the spine – by torchlight. Alemany was then bundled down eight flights of stairs to a waiting ambulance. Although the vehicle was struck by a falling tree-branch en route, Alemany delivered a healthy boy 40 minutes afterwards at Mt Sinai hospital.
     
  • An off-duty NYPD officer drowned in the submerged basement of his New York home as he rescued his family. Artur Kasprzak helped six adults and his 15-month-old child into the attic, before telling his family he needed to check the basement, reports the Daily Mail.  When Kasprzak failed to return, the family called the emergency services, who dispatched a dive team. Rescuers did not reach the house until the following morning, because electrified power lines in the water blocked their search. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
     
  • A 23-year-old woman died after being electrocuted by a broken power line in Queens, New York on Monday night. Lauren Abraham stepped into a puddle that had contact with live wires broken as Hurricane Sandy ripped through the area. Neighbours told the Times Ledger that her body seemed to be alight for over two hours. One neighbour, Marie Costa, commented “She was burned all over” and explained that when the accident occurred, the power was still running, preventing passers-by from assisting Abraham.
     
  • Director Darren Aronofsky had to postpone shooting on his upcoming ‘Noah’s Ark’ film – because of flooding. Two giant ‘arks’ were built for the film, one of which is in water at Oyster Bay, New York. The vessel was never intended to be seaworthy: producers were hoping it would not be damaged in the superstorm. One of the film’s stars, Emma Watson tweeted Aronofsky and co-star Russell Crowe: “I take it that the irony of a massive storm holding up the production of Noah is not lost [on you].”
     
  • The deluge dragged two coffins out of their graves at a cemetery in Maryland. The powerful flood waters swelled the ground in the town of Crisfield, and managed to lift the heavy cement slabs that had covered the caskets, leaving them poking out of the grass at angles to their tombstones. Crisfield residents described the flooding as the worst since 1985’s Hurricane Gloria, reports the Associated Press.
     
  • Claudene Christian, the crew member who died when the replica HMS Bounty sank off the North Carolina coast on Monday, claimed to be the great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Fletcher Christian, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Christian was the master’s mate who led the 1789 mutiny aboard the original Bounty against Captain Bligh. The replica was built for the 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty in which Marlon Brando played Fletcher Christian.
     
  • Celebrities took to Twitter to broadcast their reactions to Hurricane Sandy’s New York rampage. Actress Joan Collins lamented the closure of her favourite department store, tweeting, “True disaster is that Bloomingdales is closed today. Where’s a girl to shop during a hurricane?” Comedian Ricky Gervais asked whether “this Sandy who’s on TV all the time and is blowing the entire east coast” was a Kardashian – a tweet that’s already been shared over 13,500 times. Actress and model Elizabeth Hurley said the power cut was “monstrous” and urged Southern Electric to “Hurry up and fix” it.

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