Shuddering houses, falling limbs evoke storm fears

Updated 5:36 AM EDT, Tue October 30, 2012

Story highlights

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(CNN) —  

Beth Bartley clutched anything she could as she sat on the floor of her shuddering Manhattan building.

The superstorm knocked power out. East 96th Street below was a river. And she was trapped on the fifth floor in darkness as the usually sturdy building trembled.

“The winds were so strong that the building heaved. It was eerie,” said Bartley, an actress. “It was really scary. We were just bracing as the building shook and creaked.”

This is one of the many harrowing stories that are being told about Sandy, a storm that has even veteran weather watchers scratching their heads, marveling at its power.

“This is the most unusual storm I’ve ever chased. We’ll probably never see anything like it again in our lifetime,” said Reed Trimmer, a XXX storm chaser. “This is a nor’easter on steroids.”

Trevor Mann was one of the few people in his area of Ocean City, New Jersey who did not heed emergency evacuation orders. And by Monday evening he may have wished he had.

He watched as the eye of storm the passed over his coastal city and the flood waters rushed like a relentless linebacker. Patio furniture was thrown into homes. Rushing waters made seem to make beach houses disappear. The destruction was breathtaking

“I am not going outside,” said Mann. “But when people do go outside the clean up is going to be tremendous and there is going to be a lot of damage.”

Shahir Daud was watching the lights go out in his Upper East Side New York neighborhood, hoping that his place would not be next.

He saw manhole covers blown out of the street and wondered if there was a fire nearby. He watched as dark waters from the East River submerged parts of Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive.

But by late Monday evening it seemed that the worst of the storm had passed his neighborhood. And the 33 year-old filmmaker wondered when he would be able to get back to his job at MTV.

“I work in lower Manhattan, I don’t know when the (the trains) are going to run again,” said Daud. ” We are just going to hunker down here. We are lucky. The lights are still on.”

Millions were not that lucky and were still in the dark, officials said. Another danger was the more than 60 mph wind gusts that were predicted to batter a large number of northeastern states.

CNN iReporter Earl Bateman, a stock broker, who has lived in New York for 30 years said he saw something he never saw before Monday.

“We just looked out the window and there’s this river flowing through the middle of Manhattan,” Bateman said.

The power was still on in his building but the elevators had stopped working. Not a good thing for a man that lives on the 18th floor.

Brooklyn was hard hit also said Borough President Mark Markowitz., with many without power.

“We have many more hours and many more days of restoring this great city . It is going to take the effort of a all of us collectively to restore this great city,” Markowitz said.

In sothern Vermont, Ireporter Caleb Clark said he felt the howling winds and his town was also battered by rain.

On Monday, most in his neighborhood in the town of Brattleboro had taken shelter and less than 500 had lost power, Clark said.

It was was his son’s Shaw’s 6-month birthday and the family spent it listening to weather reports about downed trees and closed roads.

“Shaw what do you think about this storm?” the father asked.

“Ba Ba Baaa,” the baby said and then burst into a wide, toothless smile.

Little Shaw may have been one of the few smiling as Sandy continues to bear down.

CNN’s Tom Watkins, Josh Levs, Jareen Imam, Sarah Brown and Chelsea Carter contributed to this report.