Hurricane Sandy gathered strength as it churned through the Atlantic toward the mid-Atlantic coast early Monday, buffeting coastal North Carolina and Virginia with powerful gusts as its top sustained winds increased from 75 mph to 85 mph. Sandy, which has been blamed for 65 deaths in the Caribbean, is expected to hit the most populated part of the U.S. as early as Monday night, affecting 50 million people as it collides with a winter storm, a cold front, and high tides from a full moon to created a so-called Frankenstorm. Airlines have canceled 7,200 flights, trains and subways have shut down from Washington, D.C., to New York City, and hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated low-lying coastal areas, including lower Manhattan and other parts of New York that could be hit by an 11-foot wall of water. "The time for preparing and talking is about over," Federal Emergency Management Administrator Craig Fugate said. "People need to be acting now."
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