The scale of the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy is mounting today as the death toll continues to rise – currently 48 people across the US and Canada have been reported dead, but the final figure is expected to be significantly higher.
President Obama declared a ‘major disaster’ in New York and Long Island as flooded streets were littered with cars, homes were razed to the ground and tankers washed up on shore.
The President warned that Sandy ‘is not yet over’ and announced that he would visit New Jersey on Wednesday to visit the scenes of the destruction.
Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in New York and the transit system, schools, the stock exchange and Broadway are all out of action after a 13ft wall of water caused by the storm surge and high tides brought severe flooding to subways and road tunnels.
Sandy, one of the biggest storms to ever descend on the country, hit the mainland at 6.30pm local time yesterday having laid waste to large parts of the coast during the day.
The storm that made landfall in New Jersey on Monday evening with 80mph sustained winds, cut power to more than 7.4 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the death toll in the America’s most populous city is up to ten – two children, aged 11 and 13, were killed instantly in the city by a falling tree. Many of the total number of victims were said to have been killed by falling trees.
Nearly 200 firefighters spent the night battling to get a blaze under control in the Queens, but over 80 homes were flattened in the fire.
On Wednesday, the President plans to thank first responders in New Jersey as he surveys the damage with state Governor Chris Christie, who has praised Obama’s leadership in dealing with the disaster.
Speaking from the headquarters of the Red Cross in Washington DC, Obama said that Sandy ‘is not yet over’.
Warning there were still risks of flooding and downed power lines, he described the storm as ‘heartbreaking for the nation’ and, offering his thoughts and prayers to the victims, he added: ‘America is with you.’
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it could be three days or more before power is restored to hundreds of thousands of people now in the dark.
He is giving no estimate on when public transit would be running, though he expects some buses be running later today.
He said there have nor been any storm-related fatalities in NYC hospitals.
The storm was once Hurricane Sandy but combined with two wintry systems to become a huge hybrid storm whose center smashed ashore late Monday in New Jersey. New York City was perfectly positioned to absorb the worst of its storm surge – a record 13 feet.
The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment, the mayor said. A 23-year-old woman died by stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire.
A man and a woman were crushed by a falling tree. An off-duty officer on Staten Island who ushered his relatives to the attic of his home apparently became trapped in the basement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 156 rescue missions were made by state and city police.
‘It’s fair to say that the state police and NYPD and the National Guard saved hundreds of lives yesterday,’ he said.