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Hurricane Sandy: Storm surge floods NYC tunnels, cuts power to city (+video)

Nearly a million New Yorkers were without power as hurricane Sandy made landfall Monday night. Subway tunnels, the waterfront, and the financial district flooded.

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The city shut all three of its airports, its subways, schools, stock exchanges, Broadway theaters and closed several bridges and tunnels throughout the day as the weather worsened.

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Earlier, some New Yorkers defiantly soldiered on, trying to salvage normal routines and refusing to evacuate, as the mayor ordered 375,000 in low-lying areas to do.

Mark Vial pushed a stroller holding his 2-year-old daughter Maziyar toward his apartment building in Battery Park City, an area that was ordered evacuated.

"We're high up enough, so I'm not worried about flooding," said Via, 35. "There's plenty of food. We'll be OK."

On Long Island, floodwaters had begun to deluge some low-lying towns and nearly 150,000 customers had lost power. Cars floated along the streets of Long Beach and flooding consumed several blocks south of the bay, residents said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, holding a news conference on Long Island where the lights flickered and his mike went in and out, said most of the National Guards deployed to the New York City area would go to Long Island.

"Long Island has become more and more vulnerable and the primary area of our concentration," he said.

In the fishing village of Greenport, Sean Seal piled dirt and sandbags onto the alleyway behind his collectibles store where the water was steadily creeping up the street toward his front door. He only opened the shop about two months ago.

"We put everything up. Up on tables, up on shelves, as far as we could," he said. "It's gonna be devastating. We'll lose a lot of stuff."

Anoush Vargas drove with her husband, Michael to the famed Jones Beach Monday morning, only to find it covered by water.

"We have no more beach. It's gone," she said, shaking her head as she watched the waves go under the boardwalk.

The center the storm, a combination of Sandy, a wintry system from the West and cold air streaming from the Arctic, threatened to knock out the underground network of power, phone and high-speed Internet lines that are the lifeblood of America's financial capital.

Despite the dire forecasts, many chose to embrace what was coming.

Tanja Stewart and her 7-year-old son, Finn, came from their home in Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood to admire the white caps on the Hudson, Finn wearing a pair of binoculars around his neck. "I really wanted to see some big waves," he said.

Nearby, Keith Reilly climbed up on a rail next to the rising waters of New York Harbor so his friend Eli Rowe could snap a photo of him in an Irish soccer jersey with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

"This is not so bad right now," said the 25-year-old Reilly. "We'll see later."

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews, Colleen Long and Deepti Hajela in New York, Larry Neumeister, Frank Eltman and Meghan Barr on Long Island, and Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Md., contributed to this report.

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