Millions of people across the US Northeast stricken by massive storm Sandy were attempting to resume normal lives yesterday as companies, markets and airports reopened, despite grim projections of power and mass transit outages lasting several more days.
With six days to go before the Nov. 6 elections, US President Barack Obama was scheduled to visit storm-ravaged areas of the New Jersey shore, where Sandy made landfall on Monday. His guide will be Republican Governor Chris Christie, a vocal backer of presidential challenger Mitt Romney who has nevertheless praised Obama and the federal response to the storm.
Sandy, which has killed 40 people in the US, pushed inland and dumped snow in the Appalachian Mountains. Its remains slowed over Pennsylvania and it was expected to move north toward western New York and Canada, the National Weather Service said.
Blizzard warnings and coastal flood warnings for the shores of the Great Lakes were in effect.
Battered by a record storm surge of nearly 4.2m of water, swaths of New York City remained submerged under several meters of water. In the city’s borough of Staten Island, police used helicopters to pluck stranded residents from rooftops.
Across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey, National Guard members arrived to help residents pump floodwater from their homes, the city said on Twitter.
More than 8.2 million homes and businesses remained without electricity across several states as trees toppled by fierce winds tore down power lines.
In New Jersey, Christie said it could take seven to 10 days before power is restored statewide. Subway tracks and commuter tunnels under New York City, which carry several million people a day, were under several meters of water.
In the lower half of Manhattan, a quarter-million residents remained without power after a transformer explosion at a Con Edison substation on Monday night. In Greenwich Village, where downed trees littered the streets, residents gathered around a neighborhood police station to use its power outlets to charge their cellphones.
New York City likely will struggle without subways for days, authorities said. Buses were operating on a limited basis and many residents were walking long distances or scrambling to grab scarce taxicabs on the streets.
Two of the area’s major airports — John F. Kennedy International in New York and Newark Liberty International — planned to reopen with limited service yesterday.
Despite much of the city’s financial district being damaged by flooding, financial markets were scheduled to reopen yesterday as well. How much activity could take place remained to be seen, however, as many workers may be unlikely to get to work without subways and commuter railroads from the suburbs.
In New Jersey, Christie took a helicopter tour of devastation on Tuesday along the shore, where boats were adrift, boardwalks were washed away and roads were blocked by massive sand drifts. He stopped in the badly damaged resort towns of Belmar and Avalon.
“I was just here walking this place this summer and the fact that most of it is gone is just incredible,” he said at one stop.
Obama and Romney put campaigning on hold for a second day on Tuesday, but Romney planned to hold rallies in the battleground state of Florida yesterday and Obama seemed likely to resume campaigning today.
Sandy became the biggest storm to hit the US in generations when it crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds on Monday near Atlantic City.