Rains, floods, and high winds are bearing down in eastern cities, as Hurricane Sandy moves northward with about 60 million people in its path and seems set to collide with two other weather systems to form one of the worst storms in the U.S. Tens of thousands of people evacuated from their homes Sunday. Christian charity Salvation Army said it was mobilized to serve.
With top sustained winds of 75 mph with higher gusts, Hurricane Sandy was moving toward north at 14 mph with its eye swirling about 425 miles southeast of New York City early Monday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
With hurricane-force winds extending up to 175 miles from the storm's center, Sandy is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge, coastal hurricane winds and heavy Appalachian snows to the mid-Atlantic coast, forecasters warned.
The storm is still on track to become a historical storm for the mid-Atlantic and southern New England with New Jersey and New York City bracing for "very dangerous conditions and catastrophic damage," said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. The impact from Sandy will reach hundreds of miles from the center of landfall, including areas well inland and well ahead of the storm's landfall Monday night, he added.
States of emergency remain in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and a coastal county in North Carolina.
As rain from the leading edges of the hurricane began to fall over the Northeast on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people from Maryland to Connecticut were ordered to evacuate low-lying coastal areas, including 375,000 in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City, 50,000 in Delaware and 30,000 in Atlantic City, N.J., The Associated Press reported.
Forecasters have warned that the New York area could get the worst of it with an 11-foot wall of water.
Travel had already become difficult across the Northeast on Sunday. More than 7,200 flights were canceled. Amtrak also began suspending train service. Subways, buses and trains were shut down in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. Schools announced they will remain closed on Monday, including in Boston.
The New York Stock Exchange announced it will close floor trading Monday and move to an electronic-only system.
As many as 10 million people are expected to lose electricity in eastern cities.
"The time for preparing and talking is about over," Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate said. "People need to be acting now."
The Salvation Army said it was prepared to serve. "Our emergency disaster response teams will continue to closely monitor the storm track and utilize our resources to reach survivors and first responders," Major George Hood, National Community Relations & Development Secretary, said in a statement.
The evangelical ministry said its assets were on standby from the Carolinas to Maine, ready to deploy as needed and requested by Emergency Management personnel. It has more than 300 emergency response vehicles in the eastern and southern United States alone and more than 600 units nationwide, which can serve thousands of meals and drinks per day.
Apart from food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care, The Salvation Army is also prepared to provide clean-up kits containing brooms, mops, buckets and cleaning supplies; hygiene kits; shower units; first-aid supplies and communications support, the statement added.
On Sunday, the ministry in Salisbury, Md., served lunch for more than 200 persons at a shelter among other support measures in the state. It is also serving in Virginia, District of Columbia and New Jersey.