At least 65 left dead in Sandy's trail of destruction
THE EASTERN seaboard of the United States showed signs of returning to life yesterday, two days after Hurricane Sandy smashed its way across the region, killing at least 65 people, wreaking tens of billions of dollars in damage and leaving 8.2 million people without power at its height.
Utility companies, who had plenty of practice after Hurricane Irene last year, and the “snowpocalyse” the year before that, seem to be acting more quickly than usual. By yesterday afternoon only 5.9 million households in 15 states were still subject to outages, according to CNN.
Consolidated Edison said it would take four days to restore electricity to more than 300,000 customers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and up to a week to bring power back to the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Westchester county.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg rang the bell to reopen the New York Stock Exchange. After tens of thousands of flights had been cancelled, John F Kennedy and Newark airports resumed limited services. Amtrak was able to run trains south from Newark but, with tunnels under the Hudson still flooded, Penn Station and Manhattan remained cut off. Much of the vital northeastern railway corridor, which runs from Washington to Boston, remained underwater.
A few trains plied their way out to Long Island, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said some trains would run between Manhattan and Brooklyn today. The subway, which normally transports five million people daily, will not reopen until early next week, the mayor said.
The Metropolitan Museum reopened to visitors, though its branch at the Cloisters, in Fort Tryon Park, remained closed. New York police arrested 13 people for looting.
The magnitude of the disaster held sway over small signs of normality. Surreal images of entire communities seemingly floating in water, houses dumped on highways, a boat astride a railway line, subway stations like aquariums and residents returning in kayaks and canoes to inspect their flood-damaged homes embedded themselves in the popular imagination.
Two days after the superstorm, rescuers continued to search debris-filled, waterlogged neighbourhoods. Manhattan remained a divided city, with midtown and the north of the island functioning almost normally while the southern part, below 39th street, remained flooded and without power.
In Rhode Island a man returned to his seaside cottage to find nothing but a pipe outlet where it had stood.
In Breezy Point, Queens, a neighbourhood that had been inhabited by the families of firemen for a century, firefighters visited the smouldering ruins of at least 111 homes destroyed when Sandy’s winds carried flames through the neighbourhood on Monday night. The householders had watched helplessly as their homes were destroyed.