News Column

US East Coast Tries to Clean Up after Hurricane Sandy

October 31, 2012

The US East Coast was to start picking up the pieces Wednesday after superstorm Sandy left at least 33 people dead and damage estimated in the billions of dollars.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the largest US city was going "back to business" and bus routes would be fully reopened Wednesday. The subway would probably take another four or five days to resume operations, he said late Tuesday. Some flights were to also resume.

President Barack Obama planned to visit New Jersey Wednesday with the state's governor, Chris Christie, for a first-hand impression of the damage.

"The devastation on the Jersey shore is unthinkable," said the leader of the state where Sandy made landfall Monday night.

Four cities in the state were under up to 1.8 metres of water after a dam overflowed. The storm dumped snow across the nearby state of West Virginia up to 1 metre deep.

At least 18 people died in New York City alone, Bloomberg said, as high winds lashed it, pulling down the fronts of buildings, tearing down trees and pushing a surge of water into the city's subways and streets.

Fires burned down 80 homes in the New York neighbourhood of Breezy Point, and all three major airports in the metropolitan region were closed down when their runways were flooded.

The two largest are to reopen Wednesday for limited service: John F Kennedy International Airport, the busiest airport in the United States, and Newark Liberty International Airport, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

More than 18,000 flights were cancelled in the US because of Sandy and that number would grow Wednesday, the flight-tracking website said.

Hundreds of people in mid-Atlantic and north-eastern states were stranded by floods and rescued Tuesday as damage estimates reached 20 billion dollars, CNN reported.

The death toll was put at 46 by the NBC television network, and 7 million to 8 million people on the eastern seaboard were still without power early Wednesday, news reports said.

Obama met with the heads of utilities late Tuesday as well as Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and the head of the federal disaster agency, Craig Fugate, to urge the earliest possible restoring of power. The president said there should be no bureaucratic hold-ups.

The Transportation Department released 10 million dollars to New York City to repair streets, bridges and subway tunnels. A further 3 million dollars would go to the state of Rhode Island, the department said late Tuesday. Other states would receive more funds, it said.

The annual Halloween parade, a fixture and tourist draw in New York, scheduled for its 39th edition Wednesday, would be postponed to next week, Bloomberg said.

German celebrity model Heidi Klum also cancelled her high-profile annual fancy dress party, the Entertainment Tonight TV show said.

The city's marathon, set for Sunday, was to go ahead as planned, reports said.

The storm, which has weakened since making landfall, was heading past Chicago and towards Canada.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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