The misery of superstorm Sandy’s devastation grew Tuesday as millions along the U.S. East Coast faced life without power or mass transit for days, and huge swaths of New York City remained eerily quiet. At least 33 people were killed, and rescue work continued.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with hurricane force cut power to at least 7.4 million across the East and put the presidential campaign on hold just one week before Election Day.
New York was among the hardest hit, with its financial heart closed for a second day. The storm caused the worst damage in the 108-year history of the city’s subway system, and there was no indication of when the largest U.S. transit system would be rolling again.
But the full extent of the damage in New Jersey was being revealed as morning arrived. Emergency crews fanned out to rescue hundreds.
A hoarse-voiced New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave bleak news at a morning news conference: Seaside rail lines washed away. No safe place on the state’s barrier islands for him to land. Parts of the coast still under water.
"It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see," he said. "It is a devastating sight right now."
The death toll from Sandy in the U.S. included several killed by falling trees. Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Eastern Seaboard.
Airlines canceled more than 12,000 flights. New York City’s three major airports remained closed.
President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in New York and Long Island, making federal funding available to residents of the area. He suspended campaigning again Tuesday.
"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled again Tuesday after the storm sent a nearly 14-foot surge of seawater, a record, coursing over its seawalls and highways and into low-lying streets. The water inundated tunnels, subway stations and the electrical system that powers Wall Street and sent hospital patients and tourists scrambling for safety. Skyscrapers swayed and creaked in winds that partially toppled a crane 74 stories above Midtown. A large tanker ship ran aground on the city’s Staten Island.
A fire raged in a city neighborhood Tuesday morning near the Atlantic Ocean, with 80 to 100 homes destroyed but no deaths reported.
"This will be one for the record books," said John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Consolidated Edison, which had more than 670,000 customers without power in and around New York City.
In New Jersey, where the superstorm came ashore, a huge swell of water swept over the small town of Moonachie, and authorities struggled to rescue about 800 people, some of them living in a trailer park. Police and fire officials used boats to try to reach the stranded.
"I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground. I watched a tree crush a guy’s house like a wet sponge," mobile home park resident Juan Allen said.
The massive storm reached well into the Midwest with heavy rain and snow. Chicago officials warned residents to stay away from the Lake Michigan shore as the city prepared for winds of up to 60 mph and waves exceeding 24 feet well into Wednesday.
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Read the NY Times hit piece on Europe here
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Strike up the violins and break out the barf ...