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“If the public’s not following instructions, that makes it more dangerous for people, and it means that we could have fatalities that could have been avoided,” Obama said at the White House, adding that people should expect long power outages and idled transportation systems.
U.S. stock markets were closed for the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and will remain shut on Tuesday. The federal government in Washington was closed and schools were shut up and down the East Coast.
One disaster forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, only half insured.
Governors up and down the East Coast declared states of emergency. Maryland’s Martin O’Malley warned there was no question Sandy would kill people in its way.
Sandy made landfall just south of Atlantic City, about 120 miles (193 km) southwest of Manhattan. Casinos in Atlantic City had already shut down.
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN INTERRUPTED
The storm interrupted the U.S. presidential campaign with eight days to go before the election, as Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney canceled events. Both men acted cautiously to avoid coming across as overtly political while millions of people are imperiled by the storm.
The early signs were that New York City was mostly weathering the storm well.
“In the olden days, you would have had lots of fatalities. We’re not through this yet. … It may be as bad of (a) storm as we’ve ever seen, but I would expect the damage to be relatively minor,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a Monday evening news conference.
New York City evacuated neighbors of a 90-story super luxury apartment building under construction after its crane partially collapsed in high winds, prompting fears the entire rig could crash to the ground.