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SKYE on AOL

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    A sign warning against looting is posted in the Nejecho Beach neighborhood of Brick, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 6, after the area suffered serious damage from last week's storm surge from Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Richard Chan prowled around his cold, dark Staten Island home with knives and a sword to protect it from thieves, standing his ground as another East Coast storm threatened and police went door-to-door with loudspeakers warning people to get out.

    "I still have some valuables. I just can't leave it," he said Tuesday. "I just don't want to lose my stuff to some dirtbag."

    While city officials strongly encouraged storm-ravaged communities to seek higher ground before Wednesday's nor'easter, Chan was among a group who adamantly refused to leave, choosing to stick close to the belongings they have left.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    Since the superstorm made landfall more than a week ago, killing 40 people in the city, more than 100 in 10 states and leaving millions without power, police said overall crime has actually gone down, not up. There are few reports of looting storm-damaged homes.

    But Alex Ocasio wasn't convinced. The nursing home worker planned to ride out the latest storm in his first-floor Rockaway apartment - even after seeing cars float by his front door during Sandy.

    As the water receded, men dressed in dark clothes broke down the door and were surprised to find him and other residents inside. "They tried to say they were rescue workers, then took off," he said.

    He put up a handmade sign - "Have gun. Will shoot U" - outside his apartment and started using a bed frame to barricade the door. He has gas, so he keeps on the oven and boils water to stay warm at night. "It gets a little humid, but it's not bad," he said. "I'm staying. Nothing can be worse than what happened last week."

    In the Rockaways, one of the worst-hit areas, nightfall brings with it fears of looting, burglaries - even armed robberies. The idyllic seaside boardwalk was in ruins, streets were covered with sand and cars scattered like trash.

    "You can't go there after dark anymore," said 57-year-old construction worker William Gavin, pointing to a battered, lower-income section of his beachfront community. "It's a good way to get a gun pulled on you."

    Earlier this week, a retired police officer fired warning shots at someone trying to break into her home in the middle of the night, said Sean Kavanagh.

    "I don't blame her," said Kavanagh, also a retired officer. "I would have done the same."

    Kavanagh says he's staying home, in part to protect it. "I leave and anything can happen," he said. "It's open season."

    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said it wasn't wise to stay put.

    "I think your life is more important than property," he said.

    Kelly said police have arrested 123 people citywide since the storm blew in last week - 54 burglary arrests and 41 others stemming from gas line disputes. Police said the majority were in areas suffering from the storm.

    "You would think, under the circumstances, you would see much more," Kelly said. "We haven't seen that."

    Burglaries were up 6 percent citywide compared to the same period last year, but overall crime was down 27 percent, police said.

    More than 1 million people remained without power on Tuesday, and forecasters said the nor'easter headed to the region on Wednesday could still bring 50 mph winds gusts to New York and New Jersey, an inch of rain and a storm surge of 3 feet.

    "I know it's been a long, long eight days," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

    The storm fallout didn't deter voters in the most battered areas, with heavy turnout in New York and New Jersey. Cuomo had given displaced New Yorkers the right to vote at any polling place in the state.

    With the temperatures dropping into the 30s overnight, people in dark, unheated homes were urged to go to overnight shelters or daytime warming centers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would ask - but not force - people to leave low-lying shore areas hit by Sandy ahead of Wednesday's storm.

    Bloomberg said in a normal autumn, the storm wouldn't be a big deal and wouldn't warrant evacuations.

    But "out of precaution and because of the changing physical circumstances, we are going to go to some small areas and ask those people to go to higher ground," the mayor said.

    He was closing parks, playgrounds and beaches, and property owners were ordered to secure construction sites.

    Willamae Cooper, 63, rode out Sandy in her apartment in the beachfront Dayton Towers complex in the Rockaways. By Tuesday, Cooper had seen enough. She decided to leave for her daughter's house on Staten Island, rather than have a front row seat to another storm.

    "After that first one, God knows what could happen," she said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 20 Images of Strength, Hope and Gratitude After Sandy

     

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    (AP Photo)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Major airlines were canceling flights in and out of the New York City area Wednesday ahead of the second significant storm in little more than a week. United, the world's largest airline, warned that the storm likely would cause more delays and cancellations throughout the U.S. Northeast.

    United and American planned to suspend operations in the region in the afternoon. Other airlines encouraged passengers to reschedule, without a fee.

    Airlines are quick to cancel flights ahead of major storms to avoid stranding aircraft and crews and lessen storm-related financial losses. As of 8:45 a.m. EST, about 360 flights had been canceled at the three main New York City-area airports, according to flight tracker FlightAware. About half were at Newark Liberty International in New Jersey.

    Superstorm Sandy last week led to more than 20,000 flight cancellations. The latest storm is weaker but still brings high winds, a mix of rain and snow and the potential for more flooding. Sandy flooded some airport runways when it hit.

    United was suspending most service in New York. American Airlines was shutting down in New York at 3 p.m. It also was stopping flights to and from Philadelphia at noon.

    Most other airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc. and JetBlue Airways Corp., were asking passengers to reschedule their Northeast flights for a later date and waiving the usual change fees of up to $150.

    JetBlue, the biggest domestic airline at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, said its operations had just gotten back to normal Monday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 20 Images of Strength, Hope and Gratitude After Sandy

     

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    Updated Wednesday, Nov. 7, 5:48 p.m.

    A pedestrian walks past the New York Stock Exchange Nov. 7, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

    EW YORK (AP) - A nor'easter blustered into New York and New Jersey on Wednesday, bringing wet snow to some areas, knocking down tree limbs and power lines, and inflicting misery all over again on tens of thousands of people still reeling from Superstorm Sandy.

    Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn't be a big deal, but large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound, with the electrical system highly fragile and many of Sandy's victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold.

    Thousands of people in low-lying neighborhoods staggered by the superstorm just over a week ago were warned to clear out. Authorities said rain and 60 mph gusts in the evening and overnight could swamp homes again, topple trees wrenched loose by Sandy, and erase some of the hard-won progress made in restoring power to millions of customers.

    "I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. "We may take a setback in the next 24 hours."

    Ahead of the storm, public works crews in New Jersey built up dunes to protect the stripped and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities already emptied by Sandy. New shelters opened.

    In New York City, police went to low-lying neighborhoods with loudspeakers, urging residents to leave. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn't issue mandatory evacuations, and many people stayed behind, some because they feared looting, others because they figured whatever happens couldn't be any worse than what they have gone through already.

    "This is nothing," Staten Island nurse Elena McDonnell said as she weathered the storm in a dark, flood-damaged home that she fled last week when cars on her block began floating away.

    Still, authorities urged caution. The city manager in Long Beach, N.Y., urged the roughly 21,000 people who ignored previous mandatory evacuation orders in the badly damaged barrier-island city to get out.

    All construction in New York City was halted - a precaution that needed no explanation after a crane collapsed last week in Sandy's high winds and dangled menacingly over the streets of Manhattan. Parks were closed because of the danger of falling trees. Drivers were advised to stay off the road after 5 p.m.

    Airlines canceled at least 1,300 U.S. flights in and out of the New York metropolitan area, causing a new round of disruptions that rippled across the country.

    By the afternoon, the storm was bringing rain and wet snow to New York, New Jersey and the Philadelphia area. Huge waves pounded the beaches in New Jersey. Firefighters in New York City responded to reports of tree branches falling into buildings, blocking streets and knocking down electrical wires.

    The early-afternoon high tide came and went without any reports of serious flooding in New York City, the mayor said. The next high tide was early Thursday morning. But forecasters said the moment of maximum flood danger may have passed in the afternoon.

    "We're petrified," said James Alexander, a resident of the hard-hit Rockaways section of Queens. "It's like a sequel to a horror movie." Nevertheless, he said he was staying to watch over his house and his neighbors.

    On Staten Island, workers and residents on a washed-out block in Midland Beach continued to pull debris - old lawn chairs, stuffed animals, a basketball hoop - from their homes, even as the bad weather blew in.

    Jane Murphy, a nurse, wondered, "How much worse can it get?" as she cleaned the inside of her flooded-out car.

    Forecasters said the nor'easter would bring moderate coastal flooding, with storm surges of about 3 feet possible Wednesday into Thursday - far less than the 8 to 14 feet Sandy hurled at the region. The storm's winds were expected to be well below Sandy's, which gusted to 90 mph.

    Sandy killed more than 100 people in 10 states, with most of the victims in New York and New Jersey. Long lines persisted as gas stations but were shorter than they were days ago. Ahead of the nor'easter, an estimated 270,000 homes and businesses in New York state and around 370,000 in New Jersey were still without electricity.

    The storm could bring repairs to a standstill because of federal safety regulations that prohibit linemen from working in bucket trucks when wind gusts reach 40 mph.

    Authorities warned also that trees and limbs broken or weakened by Sandy could fall and that even where repairs have been made, the electrical system is fragile, with some substations fed by only a single power line instead of several.

    "We are expecting there will be outages created by the new storm, and it's possible people who have just been restored from Sandy will lose power again," said Mike Clendenin, a spokesman for Consolidated Edison, the main utility in New York City.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Nor'easter Strikes Storm-Ravaged East Coast

     

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    A man works on cleaning out his father's flood damaged home on Tuesday in Brick, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    NEW YORK (AP) - The Federal Emergency Management Agency says 95,000 people are eligible for emergency housing assistance in New York and New Jersey.

    The program allows survivors who can't return to their homes due to storm Sandy damage to stay in certain hotels or motels until more suitable housing becomes available.

    The figures for each state weren't available Tuesday.

    FEMA also said more than 277,000 people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have registered for general assistance. More than $251 million has been approved.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 20 Images of Strength, Hope and Gratitude After Sandy

     

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    A satellite image of Hurricane Sandy off the southeastern United States. (Credit: LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC/Michael Carlowicz)

    Even though Hurricane Sandy had transformed into a hybrid cyclone-nor'easter when it ravaged the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, weather experts believe the damage left behind will send the name "Sandy" into retirement.

    The number of lives lost from Hurricane Sandy has climbed above 110. The devastating storm, second only to Hurricane Katrina in its kinetic energy, a measure of sheer power, caused an estimated $20 billion in property damage and cut power to more than 8 million homes.

    Hurricane names are struck from the official list when the World Meteorological Organization's Region IV committee holds its annual meeting in April. Thus, the final decision on retiring the name Sandy is months away.

    However, "it is highly expected that the name 'Sandy' will be retired at that time," said Dennis Feltgen, public affairs officer and a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center.

    Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists created by the National Hurricane Center. They are now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Six lists are used in rotation, and the 2012 list will be used again in 2018.

    The only time there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity, Feltgen told OurAmazingPlanet in an email interview. If that occurs, then, at the annual meeting by the WMO Region IV committee, the offending name is retired from the hurricane list and another name is selected to replace it, he said.

    After 2011's Hurricane Irene caused more than $15 billion in damages and 41 deaths in the United States, "Irene" was replaced with "Irma" in 2012. It was the 76th hurricane name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954, according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Recently retired hurricane names include Irene (2012), Charley ­­(2004), Dennis (2005), Dean (2007), Fabian (2003), Frances (2004), Felix (2007), Gustav (2008), Iris (2001), Isidore (2002), Isabel (2003), Ivan (2004), Ike (2008), Igor (2010), Juan (2003), Jeanne (2004), Katrina (2005), Lili (2002), Michelle (2001), Noel (2007), Paloma (2008), Rita (2005), Stan (2005), Tomas (2010) and Wilma (2005).

    Reach Becky Oskin at boskin@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

    In Photos: Notorious Retired Hurricane Names
    A History of Destruction: 8 Great Hurricanes
    Which Hurricane Names Have Been Retired?

    Copyright 2012 OurAmazingPlanet, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 20 Images of Strength, Hope and Gratitude After Sandy

     

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    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo greets residents of the Far Rockaways section of New York on Saturday. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

    ALBANY, New York (AP) - An administration official says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to request at least $30 billion in federal disaster aid to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy hit two weeks ago today.

    The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly because the details aren't final. The official confirms that the administration will use the money to cover costs to repair bridges, tunnels, subways and commuter rail lines. The money will also help rebuild homes, reimburse local governments for emergency services and make loans and grants to businesses.

    The plan was first reported by The New York Times. It's based on an estimated $50 billion in storm damages.

    The storm left more than 100 people dead across several states, most of them in New York and neighboring New Jersey.

     

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    Red Bull's Descenso del Cóndor urban downhill bike race is one of the most challenging of its kind. The high altitude course begins at 13,287 feet above sea level and includes more than 1,000 stair steps, nine drops and a handful of manmade jumps. Descenso del Cóndor, which was last run in 2006, took place again this October in La Paz, Bolivia. Watch the video for a taste.

    (via The Adventure Blog)

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Most Extreme Sports

     

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    A Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) truck is seen in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of New York on Monday. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

    HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) - Priscilla Niemiera has a message for officials at the Long Island Power Authority.

    "I'd tell them, get off your rear end and do your job," the 68-year-old Seaford resident said. Well, she would if she could get in touch with anyone.

    Over the last two weeks since she lost power from Superstorm Sandy, she says, "Every time I called, they hung up on me."

    While most utilities have restored electricity to nearly all their customers, LIPA still has tens of thousands of customers in the dark.

    The company said that the storm was worse than anyone could have imagined and that it didn't just damage outdoor electrical lines; it caused flooding that touched home and business breaker boxes. It acknowledged that an outdated computer system for keeping customers notified has added to people's frustration.

    But some say the government-run utility should have seen it coming. It was recently criticized in a withering state report for lax preparation ahead of last year's Hurricane Irene and for the 25-year-old computer system used to pinpoint outages and update customers.

    "It's antiquated. I think they're negligent," said Phil Glickman, a retired Wall Street executive from South Bellmore who waited 11 days to get electricity back.

    LIPA has restored power to more than 1.1 million homes and offices. About 19,000 customers were still waiting for the lights to come back early Tuesday.

    The utility says there also are some along Long Island's south shore and Rockaway Peninsula that had water damage to electrical panels and wiring, so their service can't be restored without an inspection and possibly repairs.

    At its peak, the storm knocked out power to 8.5 million customers in 10 states, with New York and New Jersey bearing the brunt. Those outages have been nearly erased, though Consolidated Edison, the chief utility in New York City, has cited problems similar to LIPA's, saying about 16,300 customers in flooded areas of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island can't get service until their internal electrical equipment is repaired, tested and certified.

    Niemiera, whose finished basement in Seaford flooded, said her house needs to be inspected and she can't get any answers. "I think LIPA should be broken up into small companies and it shouldn't be a monopoly anymore because this is every single time we have a disaster. And then they raise the rates. We're paying very high rates. We're paying high taxes, high electric. Everything," she said.

    LIPA, whose board is chosen by the governor and lawmakers, contracts with National Grid for service and maintenance. Last year, its board chose a new contractor, New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group, which will take over in 2014. Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized the storm response of all New York utilities in the region, saying their management had failed consumers.

    Asked Monday about LIPA board vacancies he hasn't filled and whether he takes responsibility for what's happening there, Cuomo called the authority a holding company that became "an intergovernmental political organization." He said National Grid was the actual Long Island power provider, one of the monopolistic state-regulated utilities. "They're going to be held accountable," he said, citing lack of communication and preparation and even proposing they consider rebates instead of rate hikes.

    A state report criticized LIPA in June for poor customer communications after Irene last year and for insufficient tree trimming. The Department of Public Service noted major problems in telling customers estimated power-restoration times, faulting its computer system, which a consultant had found deficient back in 2006.

    LIPA acknowledged that customers aren't getting the information they need, partly because of the system, which it is updating. Authority officials said the new system will be operating next year.

    "It is a huge computer system. After Irene we immediately accelerated that process, and even at that it is still an 18-month to two-year process," LIPA's chief operating officer, Michael Hervey, said Monday. "We would have liked to have had it up and running for now, but it's just such a large magnitude computer system that it takes that long."

    Hervey said the company will be working with remaining customers over the next several weeks as they get their homes repaired. "They can't be safely re-energized from an electrical standpoint," he said. "We are ready to service those areas, but they are not ready to take it right now."

    John Bruckner, president of National Grid Long Island transmission and distribution, said he had about 15,000 people working on restoration, including 6,400 linemen from all over the U.S. and Canada.

    Matthew Cordaro, co-chairman of the Suffolk Legislature's LIPA Oversight Committee and a former utility executive, said Con Ed and Public Service Electric & Gas New Jersey did a good job responding to the storm, and LIPA didn't.

    While a storm of that magnitude would challenge any electricity provider, he said LIPA is probably one of the most poorly run utilities and has a "crazy" public-private organizational structure that's fraught with problems and raises questions of accountability.

    In New Jersey, post-Sandy recovery moved ahead, with Gov. Chris Christie announcing that the odd-even system of gas rationing would end on Tuesday. The head of NJ Transit said a severely damaged rail line could be up and running more quickly than what had been estimated.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy

     

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    A dog is handed from a National Guard truck to National Guard personnel after the dog and his owner left a flooded building in Hoboken, N.J., on Oct. 31. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Superstorm Sandy roared into the lives of millions of people who're now scrambling to recover - while also saving their pets.

    In New York City and Long Island, the ASPCA has rescued more than 300 animals and treated or provided supplies to about 13,000.

    Search-and-rescue teams led by Animal Care & Control of NYC have been responding to calls about pets in distress.

    Celebrity chef Rachael Ray is donating $500,000 to the ASPCA to help pets and their struggling families. The money will be used to lease a New York building for emergency boarding.

    Niki Dawson is director of disaster services for the Humane Society of the United States. She says there's such a strong bond between people and pets that people will risk their lives to save them.



    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy

     

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    The sun is eclipsed by the moon in this file photo. (AP Photo)

    SYDNEY (AP) - Tens of thousands of tourists, scientists and amateur astronomers who traveled from around the world to see a total solar eclipse in northern Australia may be getting shortchanged by the weather.

    Forecasters were predicting cloudy skies around dawn Wednesday, when the moon will pass between the sun and Earth and plunge a slice of Australia's northeast into darkness. Many worried that they will miss a rare chance to view the celestial phenomenon.

    "There will be breaks in (the clouds), but it's just a matter of the luck of the draw whether you get a break at the right time," said Queensland state Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Andrew Mostyn. "It's a bit of bad luck."

    The eclipse will cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) wide shadow starting at dawn in Australia's Northern Territory and then cross the northeast tip of the country before swooping east across the South Pacific. No islands are in its direct path, so northern Australia is the only land where there's even a chance of seeing the full eclipse, said Geoff Wyatt, an astronomer with Sydney Observatory.

    A partial eclipse will be visible from east Indonesia, the eastern half of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and southern parts of Chile and Argentina. Totality - the darkness that happens at the peak of the eclipse - will last just over two minutes.

    Among those sweating out the forecast was U.S. astronomer Jay Pasachoff, who traveled to Australia in hopes of viewing his 56th solar eclipse. Pasachoff, an astronomy professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, and a team of about 50 scientists and students have fanned out across the region to improve the odds that at least some of them will see the eclipse. The group is planning to study the sun's corona, the glowing white ring around the sun that is visible only during an eclipse.

    Despite the anxiety over the weather and the long journey to get there, Pasachoff said he wouldn't miss it.

    "Just imagine you were a heart surgeon and someone actually told you you could look inside a human heart only for two minutes, and only if you went halfway around the world," he said. "You would do it."

    Some Queensland hotels have been booked up for more than three years and more than 50,000 people have flooded into the region to watch the solar spectacle, said Jeff Gillies, regional director of Queensland Tourism.

    Skygazers are planning to crowd beaches, boats, fields and hot air balloons to watch the event. Fitness fanatics will race in the Solar Eclipse Marathon, where the first rays of the sun re-emerging from behind the moon will serve as the starting gun. Some have already been partying for days at a weeklong eclipse festival.

    Scientists will be studying how animals respond to the eclipse, with underwater cameras capturing the effects of sudden darkness on the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef.

    "It's an unknown with how they'll react," Gillies said. "A little bit of flora and fauna confusion, I would imagine."

    The last total solar eclipse visible in Australia was 10 years ago, in the South Australia Outback.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    A Christmas tree farm in Glade Valley, N.C. (AP)

    HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - Some Washington-area customers won't be getting the giant Christmas trees they ordered, after Superstorm Sandy buried a Maryland farm in more than 2 feet of snow and snapped many of the 15- to 35-foot firs.

    Gale-force winds drove wet snow deep into the boughs of firs at Pinetum Christmas Trees in Swanton, high in the Appalachian Mountains. The snow then froze and pulled limbs from their sockets. The owner, Marshall Stacy, says more than 3,000 trees were damaged, resulting in roughly $40,000 in losses.

    He has refunded nearly 70 percent of his orders.

    Customers will have to look elsewhere, but there are few farms that sell oversized trees. That's because it takes so long to grow them, according to Rick Dungey of the National Christmas Tree Association.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy

     

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    Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

    Mt. Rainier (Thinkstock)

    SEATTLE (AP) - Two snowboarders who spent two nights stranded on Mount Rainier were well enough to snowshoe out Tuesday after rescuers had to "swim" through snow that was chest-deep in spots to reach them, national park officials said.

    Derek Tyndall and Thomas Dale didn't appear to have frostbite or other injuries when rescuers reached them around 11 a.m., park spokeswoman Lee Snook said.

    The two had been stuck on the 14,410-foot mountain since Sunday after getting lost in whiteout conditions and digging a snow cave for protection. Rescuers first spotted the men Monday but couldn't immediately hike to them because of darkness and avalanche danger.

    After reaching the pair Tuesday, rescuers gave Tyndall, 21, and Dale, 20, warm liquids and assessed them to determine if they could walk back down the mountain on their own.

    The men were only a few miles from the Paradise ranger station, but "it's not a straight shot" and conditions were treacherous, with snow up to 4 feet deep, Snook said. Rescuers decided the two could snowshoe out with them, and the group began the trek to the station, which is at the 5,400-foot level.

    Tyndall is from Sumner, Wash., and Dale is from Indiana, Snook said. She couldn't confirm media reports that Dale's hometown is Fort Wayne, Ind., and she didn't know how the two knew each other.

    Tyndall and Dale were snowboarding Sunday near Camp Muir, a climbers' layover at about the 10,000-foot level of Mount Rainier. They became lost in a snowstorm with high winds that created whiteout conditions, Snook said.

    They used a cellphone to call 911 and said they were digging a snow cave for protection.

    The two weren't equipped to stay overnight. However, they said they were cold but OK when they used the cellphone to check in again Monday morning before its battery died.

    Rescuers spotted the pair Monday at about the 7,000-foot level below McClure Rock on the lower Paradise glacier. They were about a half-mile from the two - close enough to wave - but were forced back by nightfall and dangerous conditions.

    Thirty rescuers working in five-member teams went out Tuesday through snow 2- to 4-feet deep, Snook said. It was so soft members had to take turns "swimming through the snow" to break a trail.

    It took searchers about two hours to reach the men from the Paradise ranger station, and Snook was certain the group would make it back out before dark.

    The weather was better than expected Tuesday with patches of clear sky at the park, where heavy snow is not unusual.

    "This is what happens on Mount Rainier," Snook said. "This is why people use Mount Rainier to train for Mount Everest."

    In January, four people disappeared in snowstorms on the mountain, which draws between 1.5 million and 2 million visitors each year. The bodies of three of them were found over the summer after snow melted.

     

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    Homes lay in ruins after heavy rain brought by Hurricane Sandy destroyed them in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, Nov. 12. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - The rain has tapered off and floodwaters no longer claw at houses, but the situation across much of Haiti remained grim on Tuesday following an autumn of punishing rains that have killed scores of people and that threaten to cause even more hunger across the impoverished nation.

    In places such as Croix-des-Missions, on the northeastern edge of the Haitian capital, the walls of dozens of homes along a pale brown river have been broken or ripped away, exposing clothes, bedding and everything else to the repeated downpours.

    Heavy rains began falling in southern Haiti even before Hurricane Sandy passed just west of the country's southern peninsula the night of Oct. 24, dropping more than 20 inches of rain within a 24-hour period.

    "It took away my whole home. Now I don't have anything," said Solange Calixte, a 56-year-old mother of two whose home in Croix-des-Missions was largely destroyed by floodwaters of the nearby Gray River.

    One of 21,000 people the U.N. says were left homeless by Sandy, Calixte was forced to move with her belongings beneath a tarp at a neighbor's home.

    And the rains have kept coming. Another front soaked much of the north late last week, causing more flooding and leaving at least a dozen dead.

    So far the back-to-back storms have killed up to 66 people and the crisis is likely to worsen in coming months. Humanitarian workers anticipate a food shortage brought on by the massive flooding that destroyed yam and corn fields.

    The United Nations says that as much as 90 percent of Haiti's current harvest season, much of it in the south, was lost in Sandy's floods, and the next harvest season won't begin until March. The World Food Program estimates that more than 1.5 million people are now at risk of malnutrition because they were either displaced or lost crops, forcing Haitians to rely heavily on more-expensive imports.

    "This means massive inflation, hunger for a lot of people and acute malnutrition," said Johan Peleman, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Haiti. "Basically, the cushion is gone."

    Soaring food costs have rattled Haiti before. In 2008, a jump in prices sparked more than a week of deadly rioting and ended in the ouster of the prime minister and his cabinet.

    The U.N. and Haitian government are now launching an emergency appeal to raise $39 million in hopes of stemming what they foresee as Haiti's next humanitarian crisis. This money is supposed to help 1.2 million people by providing shelter and food, repairing water, sanitation systems and schools.

    Calixte, who sells clothes on the street for a living, had seen flood waters seep into her concrete house before. It sits at the edge of a wide river that cuts through the northern side of Haiti's capital. But Sandy did more. The storm led the caramel-colored river to claw away at the banks, and it ripped apart the home she had lived in since 1999.

    The river has since receded and people can safely walk across through the water.

    But Calixte, wearing a black T-shirt with the letters NYC in white, said life is anything but normal.

    "I'm at the mercy of other people," she said, her eyes tearing up.

    In the north, just outside Cap-Haitien, night-long rains from a cold front caused a river to burst its bank Thursday night. The U.N. base in town was flooded, but the real damage was at the edge of ravine where floodwaters swept away cinderblock homes and the people inside them. City Hall asked aid groups for body bags.

    The rains pounded the northern coast of the country through the night. The bodies of five children and a woman in her 30s were found in a village on the outskirts of Cap-Haitien and laid out in a tight row the next day.

    The country's civil protection office counted 10 dead that morning, and added two more several days later. But officials such as the mayor of Cap-Haitien believe the toll could rise now that floodwaters are receding to reveal bodies trapped in thrashed homes.

    "Every few hours they will call you and say, 'We found a body and need you to come collect the body,'" Jean Cherenfant said. "That's the way it has been happening the past few days: The bodies keep surfacing."

    The government and foreign aid groups have responded by handing out hot meals but humanitarian workers fear it may be hard to find food down the road.

    For some, the search for food is already underway.

    "I'm waiting for the government to help me," Calixte said. "If they don't, I have to go out and beg for food."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy

     

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    Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012

    A tanker truck passing the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Climate change is suddenly a hot topic again. The issue is resurfacing in talks about a once radical idea: a possible carbon tax.

    On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.

    A carbon tax works by making people pay more for using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

    The idea was considered so radical that in 2009, when President Barack Obama tried to pass a bill on global warming, that he instead opted for the more moderate approach of capping power plant emissions and trading credits that allowed utilities to pollute more. That idea, after passing the House, stalled in the Senate in 2010 and has been considered dead since.

    Even so, the Obama administration has no plans to push for a carbon tax now, said a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because there are no discussions about the issue.

    The whole issue of climate change was virtually absent during the presidential campaign until Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. The devastating superstorm - a rarity for the Northeast - and an election that led to Democratic gains have shoved global warming back into the conversation. So has the hunt for answers to a looming budget crisis.

    So the carbon tax idea has been revived by some on both the right and left and is suddenly appearing in newspaper and magazine opinion pieces and in quiet discussions.

    "I think the impossible may be moving to the inevitable without ever passing through the probable," said former Rep. Bob Inglis. The South Carolina Republican lost his seat in 2010 in a primary fight, partly because he acknowledged that global warming exists and needs to be dealt with. Now he heads a new group that advocates a carbon tax and the idea is endorsed by former Ronald Reagan economic adviser Arthur Laffer.

    The right-leaning American Enterprise Institute held an all-day discussion of it Tuesday. At the same time, the more liberal Brookings Institution released a "modest carbon tax" proposal that would raise $150 billion a year, with $30 billion annually earmarked for clean energy investments. Brookings senior policy fellow Mark Muro called it a "perfect storm" of science and politics.

    The conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute is so concerned about a carbon tax that on Tuesday it filed a lawsuit seeking access to Treasury Department emails discussing the idea.

    There's no question a carbon tax would stir huge opposition. A tax of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions would add up to 9 to 10 percent to the price of gasoline and electric power, said Muro of Brookings.

    Experts on all sides of the issue have watched climate proposals fail in the past. Congress is still split and many in the Republican party deny the existence of man-made climate change, despite what scientists say. Congress also on Tuesday blocked the European Union from imposing a tax on American airliners flying to the continent as part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

    Energy industry lobbyist Scott Segal said many utilities will fight a carbon tax. "The conditions are far from ripe for a carbon tax, if for no other reason than a carbon tax is a tax on economic growth."

    But environmental advocates are seizing the moment, determined not to let the interest in climate change subside with the floodwaters.

    On Wednesday, former Vice President Al Gore launches a 24-hour online talkfest about global warming and disasters. Another group, 350.org, headed by environmental advocate and author Bill McKibben, is in the midst of a 21-city bus tour.

    Gore compared the link between extreme weather and "dirty energy" from coal, oil and natural gas to the links between cigarette smoking and lung cancer or the use of steroids and home runs in baseball.

    "Mother Nature is speaking very loudly and clearly," Gore said in a phone interview from San Francisco. "The laws of physics do apply and when we put 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every day, it traps a lot of heat."

    Climate change worries have had a high profile in New York, post-hurricane. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had not planned to endorse a presidential candidate, changed his mind after Sandy struck, throwing his support to Obama and citing climate change as an issue.

    On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a news conference said he had seen extreme weather with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 and now Sandy: "I get it, I've seen this movie three times."

    "Climate change is real, it's here, it's going to happen again," he said. "What do we do about it and how do we harden our systems, how do we make sure this doesn't happen with the fuel system again? How do we make sure it doesn't happen with the cellphone system? Wanna talk about chaos!"

    Gore said he's been pushing a carbon tax for decades. But his idea is not to use the money to lower the deficit, but to reduce payroll taxes in a revenue-neutral way.

    "We should tax what we burn, not what we earn," he said.

    Princeton University climate and political scientist Michael Oppenheimer likes the attention the issue has suddenly gotten, but isn't optimistic that a solution will be struck.

    "Given the paralysis in U.S. politics, I really wonder if we're up to the challenge," Oppenheimer said. "And regrettably, it might take more than one Sandy to get people awake."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 U.S. Cities Most at Risk from Rising Sea Levels

     

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