The morning after
Americans battered by Superstorm Sandy took the first cautious steps to reclaim their upended daily routines, even as rescuers combed neighbourhoods strewn with debris and scarred by floods and fire
Faced with one of the most daunting recoveries imaginable, ravaged cities in the Northeast must now clean up waterlogged buildings, burned homes and crippled infrastructure — while millions of people remain without power.
Although some New York City ground transit and airports came back to life yesterday, much of the country’s biggest city remains paralysed. Meanwhile, New Jersey neighbourhoods were still deluged under feet of water ahead of US President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to the state.
And states farther west are grappling with Superstorm Sandy’s dramatic encore — a blizzard that dumped 3 feet of snow in West Virginia and left hundreds of thousands in the shivering cold.
The arduous road to recovery seems as formidable as Sandy itself. After days of cancelled flights and stranded travellers, two New York-area airports — John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty — are scheduled to reopen today with limited service. The city’s massive subway network will remain offline for several more days as workers try to recover the inundated underground lifeline.
Still in the dark
At least 6.2 million electric customers across the eastern United States were still in the dark. At one point, about 300,000 people in West Virginia shivered without power as remnants of Superstorm Sandy dumped a barrage of snow.
As snow continues falling, so do power lines and tree limbs — meaning residents are still at risk of going cold. The storm that dumped more than 10 feet of water has left many without clean drinking water.
Parts of New York City had no running water for a second day, and cities such as New Brunswick, New Jersey, urged residents to boil drinking water.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a task for those recovering from the storm: “Clean and disinfect everything that got wet,” he tweeted. “Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.”
As Sandy sputters away, it leaves behind at least 107 deaths from Haiti to Canada.
The storm killed 67 people in the Caribbean. Then it slammed into the US East Coast, where it left at least 55 dead. And one woman in Canada died after begin struck by debris from the storm.
On Wednesday, the New York Police Department reported a total of 22 deaths in the city from Sandy. The superstorm is also wreaking financial havoc. The total cost of property damage and lost business is estimated at $10 billion to $20 billion.
Christie said seeing the damage left behind to New Jersey’s beaches was “overwhelming,” and the Jersey Shore might never return to its original glory. “We will rebuild it. No question in my mind, we’ll rebuild it,” he said. “But for those of us who are my age, it won’t be the same. It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone.”
We can overcome anything: Former New York Mayor
The former New York mayor whose reputation was forged in the city’s greatest crisis said New York would bounce back from the devastation wrought by Sandy. Rudy Giuliani said he was comforted by knowing New York’s emergency response was “maybe one of the the best in the world”. “The city’s been through this before — not that it’s easy — but because the city has so much experience dealing with these emergencies, it probably does it better than most other places,” he said. “My city went though a tremendous amount of stress yesterday and damage, but one of the things I always know about New Yorkers are that whenever things are really bad they're at their best,” he told the audience.
Costliest storms to hit US East Coast
>> Katrina $108 billion
>> Ike $29.5 billion
>> Andrew $26.5 billion
>> Wilma $21 billion
>> Ivan $18.8 billion