As the US east coast prepared for life-threatening wind and rain brought by Hurricane Sandy, the president cancelled campaign events to monitor the situation from the White House.
President Barack Obama returned Monday morning from Orlando, Florida. He is expected to “closely monitor” the storm and its after-effects from the Situation Room.
Winds of up to 130 kmph are expected to hit DC, Maryland, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Islands, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey Monday night. It will be accompanied by heavy rain and snow.
“This is a large storm,” said Charles Fugate, head of Federal Emergency Management Agency. It’s been given various names such as “Superstorm” and “Frankenstorm”. It has already killed 65 people, 51 of them in Haiti.
People living close to the coast have been evacuated, city transit systems have been suspended in Washington DC and New York. The New York stock exchange was also closed.
Flights to these also stand suspended, with no word on when services will resume. Officials have said it would depend on the magnitude of the damage caused by Sandy. The president has cancelled campaign events even for Tuesday.
Republican Mitt Romney continues to campaign, though events planned for areas in the hurricane’s path have been cancelled. He issued a statement imploring people to be careful.
Romney’s convention in Tampa, Florida in August was cut short by Hurricane Isaac, which eventually spared the state and hit adjoining Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal’s state.
“It’s my prediction that we will be spared too,” said Todd McGuire of Maryland state, which abuts Washington DC, much as Haryana and New Delhi.
But McGuire knows his prediction is less that and more a wish. Winds of that speed and heavy rain are life-threatening and can severely disrupt life at the least, for days.
A massive storm plunged most of the US east coast into darkness last July. McGuire was without electricity for three days. And three nights, he pointedly remarked.
People are stocking up everything and anything they think they need. Bottled water, for one, has disappeared from shelves in most grocery stores. And batteries.