Hurricane Sandy forces coffins of the dead to rise up from the ground

After having leveled huge swathes of New York City and the East Coast as it rampaged through the region on Monday night, superstorm Sandy inflicted a final indignity as it caused coffins to rise from their graves.

At one cemetery in Crisfield, Maryland, two caskets, one silver and the other bronze, rose up from the ground as the sheer force of the water unleashed by Sandy swelled the ground.

Powerful enough to dislodge the cement slabs that covered the graves, the sad sight indicated the indiscriminate bombardment that mother nature brought to reign over the U.S. Atlantic coastline.

Hurricane Sandy

The most devastating storm in decades to hit the country’s most densely populated region upended man and nature as it rolled back the clock on 21st-century lives, cutting off modern communication and leaving millions without power as thousands who fled their water-damaged homes wondered when, and if, life would return to normal.

Superstorm Sandy killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, and still wasn’t finished. It inched inland across Pennsylvania, ready to bank toward western New York to dump more of its water and likely cause more havoc last night.

Behind it: a dazed, inundated New York City, a waterlogged Atlantic Coast and a moonscape of disarray and debris – from unmoored shore-town boardwalks to submerged mass-transit systems to delicate presidential politics.

‘Nature,’ said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assessing the damage to his city, ‘is an awful lot more powerful than we are.’

More than 8.2million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan.

Nearly two million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up underwater – as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day from weather, the first time that has happened since a blizzard in 1888.

Hurricane Sandy

The shutdown of mass transit crippled a city where more than 8.3million bus, subway and local rail trips are taken each day, and 800,000 vehicles cross bridges run by the transit agency.

Images from around the storm-affected areas depicted scenes reminiscent of big-budget disaster movies.

In Atlantic City, New Jersey, a gaping hole remained where once a stretch of boardwalk sat by the sea. In Queens, New York, rubble from a fire that destroyed as many as 100 houses in an evacuated beachfront neighborhood jutted into the air at ugly angles against a gray sky.

In heavily flooded Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, dozens of yellow cabs sat parked in rows, submerged in murky water to their windshields. At the ground zero construction site in lower Manhattan, seawater rushed into a gaping hole under harsh floodlights.

One of the most dramatic tales came from lower Manhattan, where a failed backup generator forced New York University’s Langone Medical Center to relocate more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care.

Dozens of ambulances lined up in the rainy night and the tiny patients were gingerly moved out, some attached to battery-powered respirators as gusts of wind blew their blankets.

Airports were shut across the East Coast and far beyond as tens of thousands of travelers found they couldn’t get where they were going.

John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey will reopen at 7am this morning with limited service, but LaGuardia Airport will stay closed, officials said.

Sandy began in the Atlantic and knocked around the Caribbean – killing nearly 70 people – and strengthened into a hurricane as it chugged across the southeastern coast of the United States.

By last night it had ebbed in strength but was joining up with another, more wintry storm – an expected confluence of weather systems that earned it nicknames like ‘superstorm’ and, on Halloween eve, ‘Frankenstorm’.

Atlantic City’s fabled Boardwalk, the first in the nation, lost several blocks when Sandy came through, though the majority of it remained intact even as other Jersey Shore boardwalks were dismantled.

What damage could be seen on the coastline Tuesday was, in some locations, staggering – ‘unthinkable,’ New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said of what unfolded along the Jersey Shore, where houses were swept from their foundations and amusement park rides were washed into the ocean. ‘Beyond anything I thought I would ever see.’

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