Storm Sandy: Eastern US gets back on its feet

New Jersey resident Ross Cocheo describes "complete devastation"

Businesses and services in the north-eastern US are reopening after two days of closure forced by the storm, Sandy.

Flights have resumed to airports in New York. Some federal offices and schools were working on Wednesday, and Wall Street is trading again.

But many homes still have no power and more than 40 people are dead.

President Barack Obama, who has put campaigning on hold, is on his way to visit affected areas in New Jersey with Republican Governor Chris Christie.

Across the north-east, 6.2m homes and businesses are without power because of the storm, says the US Department of Energy.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said: "We have not seen damage like this in a generation."

He announced on Wednesday that partial subway service would begin running on Thursday.

At the Scene

Having removed himself from the election campaign to concentrate on the storm, President Obama will now see at first hand just how destructive Hurricane Sandy has been. He'll travel to Atlantic City where the Republican governor, Chris Christie - normally a fierce critic - will show him scenes of widespread destruction along the Jersey Shore.

They'll meet some of those who have lost homes, as well as the emergency teams who have been working around the clock since the weekend. Across several states, tens of thousands of people spent a second night in school gymnasiums, community centres and hotel rooms, with or without electricity.

In a converted detention centre in Teterboro, across the Hudson River from upper Manhattan, I found evacuees receiving food and a bed for the night, but anxious about their flooded homes. In the nearby communities of Little Ferry and Moonachie, the streets were dark, deserted and, in some places, still under water.

Limited service could restart on New York's Metro North and Long Island Rail Road services on Wednesday afternoon, he added.

Trams, buses and ferries were also resuming service, while most of New York's bridges have been re-opened.

The storm left New York's subway system with the worst damage in its 108-year history, said officials.

Train tunnels were flooded and electrical equipment will have to be cleaned before the network can reopen.

There was traffic gridlock during Wednesday morning's commute.

The cost of clearing up after the storm has been estimated at $30-40bn (£18-24bn).

At least 22 people were killed in New York City alone. Among those who died were:

  • Artur Kasprzak, 28, an off-duty police officer who was moving his relatives, including a 15-month-old baby, to the attic of their home in Staten Island. He died in the basement of his home as water flooded in
  • Lauren Abraham, 23, caught fire and burned to death after a live wire touched her as she tried to take pictures of a damaged power line outside her house in Queens
  • Jessie Streich-Kest, 24, and her friend Jacob Vogelman, 23, were killed by a falling tree as they walked Jessie's dog, Max, in a Brooklyn park

Flights started arriving at JFK and Newark Liberty airports on Wednesday morning. But service is limited, and delays expected after more than 18,000 flights were grounded during the storm. LaGuardia airport remains closed.

Views on Sandy from New York: "We've never seen a storm like this"

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg rang the opening bell on Wednesday at the New York Stock Exchange, which was running on generator power. The Nasdaq was also back in business after two days' closure.

The last time the stock exchange shut down for so long because of the weather was in 1888.

Sandy brought a record storm surge of almost 14ft (4.2m) to central Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10ft during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.

Maryland appeared to have the worst of the rain and snow - with falls of 12.5in (32cm) and 28in respectively.

Mr Obama has put campaigning for next week's US election on hold as he directs the federal response to the storm relief in the worst-hit areas.

Impact on US, in figures

  • 40+ people killed
  • 6.2 million left without power
  • 139 mph - highest gust of wind - Mt Washington, New Hampshire
  • 12.55 in (31.88cm) rainfall, Easton, Maryland
  • 13.88 feet (4.23m) storm surge, Lower Manhattan
  • 7,000 reports of trees down in NY City
  • 29 hospitals lost power in New Jersey

Sources: New York Times, AP

New Jersey's Republican governor has lavishly praised the Democratic president for his handling of the disaster.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has returned to the campaign trial, in the swing state of Florida.

Mr Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan has appearances planned in his home state of Wisconsin.

Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden is also in Florida, making Mr Obama's case for a second term.

In all, storm Sandy has claimed well over 100 lives, after killing nearly 70 people as it hit the Caribbean.

Impoverished Haiti is facing severe food shortages after 70% of crops were destroyed by the storm, officials said.

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