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9/11 to Sandy, one New Yorker has seen it all

NEW YORK -- Sharon Romano always seems to get a front row seat when something goes wrong in New York.

Romano was in North Tower of the World Trade Center when it was hit by al-Qaida hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001. She was sat in the front room of her house next to a power station that exploded after Hurricane Sandy hit the city on Monday night.

The explosion has become notorious for plunging much of Manhattan into darkness with about 200,000 inhabitants now facing several days without electricity.

“I was watching the TV while the electricity was still on, and all of a sudden, I heard something and seconds later, it was just pitch dark,” Romano told AFP.

Romano went out into 14th Street and all she could see was water from the East River coming toward her. “It was just like a beach with no sand.”

Cars in the street were submerged. “All the cars alarms were going on and off, on and off, and then they just died because they had no battery left,” she said.

Romano said she was so scared she felt sick, even though the experience was nothing like being in the World Trade Center 11 years ago.

“That was pretty big. That went very quickly, it felt like a matter of minutes, not a like an hour, a hundred and 2 minutes, for all that to happen.”

The World Trade Center site was also flooded by the hurricane on Monday.

But Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer said it was too early to say if there was serious damage. “There has been a lot of water in and around Ground Zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, Romano watched Con Edison engineers hurrying to repair the damage from the explosion that took many neighbors back to a similar blast a decade ago.

“It all went up in smoke, it was blowing out, it was unbelievable,” she said of the 2002 explosion. “That was big, the building shook, you had to get out.”

Stringer said Manhattan were authorities were trying to “get the answers” as to what happened on Monday night.

Con Edison spokesmen have said flooding from the East River or debris hurled around by the superstorm could have caused the explosion.

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Robert Connolly, left, embraces his wife Laura as they survey the remains of the home owned by her parents that burned to the ground in the Breezy Point section of New York, Tuesday, Oct. 30. From the 9/11 terrorist attack to Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers have seen it all up close. (AP)

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