Death toll from Sandy still on rise
Deaths in the United States and Canada from Sandy, the massive storm that hit the US east coast on Monday, rose to at least 93 this evening after the number of victims reported by authorities in New York City jumped and deaths in New Jersey and elsewhere also rose.
With deaths in the US having reached at least 74, the latest New York City death count has risen to 38, police said. Fifteen of the city's dead were found on Staten Island, whose southeast flank took the full brunt of the storm surge.
New Jersey state police confirmed the death toll in the state had reached 12 as search and rescue teams continued to gain access to devastated areas.
About 4.5 million customers remain without power this evening in the US after Hurricane Sandy earlier this week caused blackouts from South Carolina to Maine and as far west as Michigan.
Sandy, the largest tropical system measured in the Atlantic, has killed at least 75 people in the US, flooding subway tunnels and knocking out power to as many as 8.5 million homes and businesses in total along the East Coast, including about half of New Jersey.
The worst-hit states by percentage of homes and businesses affected as of 9am local time today were New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and West Virginia, according to the US Energy Department.
The storm caused almost 8.5 million homes and businesses to lose electricity at the peak of the blackouts earlier this week.
Meanwhile, miles-long traffic jams and intersections choked with cyclists greeted commuters trying to get to work in New York as the most populous US city struggled back to its feet amid the devastation of superstorm Sandy.
Drivers from New Jersey faced hour-plus delays at bridges to Manhattan today as police checkpoints turned away cars with fewer than three passengers. Lincoln Tunnel approaches backed up past the Turnpike Exit 16 toll booths and beyond the western spur entrance on Route 3.
Lines of more than 100 cars and trucks waited at gasoline stations on Route 46 leading to the George Washington Bridge, where there were 60-minute delays.
More than 225,000 homes in Manhattan below 39th Street are still without electricity. "The system has never gone through this," governor Andrew Cuomo said last night as he urged commuters to be patient as the subway system is revived. "We still have water from floor to ceiling at some stations. These are really historic obstacles."
In New Jersey, drivers were forced to wait hours for gas as many stations were closed by power losses. At the BP station on Route 130 north in North Brunswick, a line of more than 80 cars waited along the shoulder of the highway.
The traffic light on the corner was one of few working in that area. About a mile south, both the Valero and Delta stations were without power and closed.
With ground transportation hobbled, commuters were forced to improvise and arrived at work by foot, bike, bus or car. Joseph Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, pegged the lost revenue at $18 million (€14 million) a day for the agency, which is already under financial stress.
Limited, free service on 14 of 23 subway lines resumed today, along with travel on buses and Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains. Subways still cannot run between 34th Street in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, until power is restored and tunnels are cleared of water. New Jersey Transit trains remain out of service.