- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 28, 2012

Officials on Sunday implored residents of the Washington area to use common sense and respect nature’s will as Hurricane Sandy steered toward its clash with wintry weather from the north.

What has been called an unprecedented weather event closed schools and government offices and left people up and down the East Coast preparing for power outages and collapsed roofs before a single raindrop fell.

Sandy was headed north from the Caribbean, where it killed more than five dozen people, and was expected to hook west toward the mid-Atlantic coast and come ashore late Monday or early Tuesday, most likely in New Jersey, colliding with a storm moving in from the west and cold air streaming down from the Arctic. The series of events has created a potentially devastating mix that could affect the lives of 50 million people from the East Coast to the Great Lakes, forecasters said.

“Let me be clear — this storm is unique, large, dangerous and unlike anything our region has experienced in a very long time,” D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Sunday at the city’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency headquarters.

President Obama traveled the nearly three miles from the White House to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s headquarters for a briefing by agency officials and a conference call with governors from states in the storm’s path. The president pledged federal aid to states affected by the storm.

“My message to the governors, as well as to the mayors, is anything they need, we will be there, and we will cut through red tape. We are not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules,” he said.

Later Sunday, he declared a state of emergency in the District, as had been requested by city leaders.

New York City announced the closings of its mass-transit and school systems, both the nation’s largest, and ordered some 375,000 residents to leave low-lying areas ahead of the massive storm approaching the eastern third of the U.S.

Broadway took the threat of the mammoth storm seriously, with many theater owners canceling Sunday evening shows.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie’s emergency declaration will force the shutdown of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos for the fourth time in the city’s 34-year history of legalized gambling. Officials said they would begin evacuating Atlantic City’s 30,000 residents at noon Sunday, busing them to inland shelters and schools.

For Monday, nearly 4,000 flights were canceled.

Amtrak said it was canceling all service north of New York at 7 p.m. Sunday. Nearly all service across the Eastern Seaboard will be canceled beginning Monday.

In the D.C. area, Metro announced closures of its rail and bus systems after the completion of Sunday service until further notice. The transit system reported that it placed sandbags around its tunnels and stations. Both the Maryland Transit Administration and Virginia Railway Express announced Sunday that their commuter-rail trains would not run Monday.

‘Killer storm’

r. Gray and emergency officials have not imposed any curfews or restrictions on movement around the city.

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