US begins recovery after storm
The US north east began crawling back to normal today after monster storm Sandy crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 45 people in nine states with a massive storm surge and rain that caused epic flooding.
US president Barack Obama joined one of his top Republican critics to visit victims of superstorm Sandy today.
It gave Americans a high-profile display of presidential leadership while leaving rival Mitt Romney on the sidelines less than a week before election day.
Mr Obama visited New Jersey, the state hardest hit by the storm which hammered much of the north-eastern United States, accompanied by Republican governor Chris Christie.
The governor has been one of Mr Romney’s most prominent supporters, but he has been effusive in his praise of Mr Obama’s response to the storm.
Mr Christie greeted Mr Obama as Air Force One landed on a sunny, breezy day in Atlantic City. The two men boarded the presidential helicopter for an hour-long aerial tour of the storm damage.
Although Mr Obama has suspended campaigning for three days in a tight race and New Jersey is safe Democratic territory, the tour with Mr Christie offers him clear advantages.
He can appear to be in command, directing US aid and showing concern for the storm’s victims. The appearance with Mr Christie also makes him look bipartisan at a time of deep division in US politics.
Mr Romney, meanwhile, must walk a careful line. Aggressive attacks on Mr Obama could appear unseemly during a national crisis. Yet he is running out of time to make his case to voters ahead of next Tuesday’s vote.
Polls show the candidates virtually tied. But the winner will be determined in state-by-state votes, and a handful of states that are not clearly Democratic or Republican will determine the outcome. Mr Obama appears to have a slight lead in the state tallies.
Mr Obama’s campaign announced today that he planned to resume campaign travel tomorrow after a three-day pause, with stops in Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, US National Guard troops are conducting a major rescue operation in Hoboken, New Jersey, to help tens of thousands of people trapped in their homes by flooding since Hurricane Sandy hit the US east coast on Monday.
As soldiers conducted sweeps of the city to free residents, Hoboken authorities warned those stranded in their homes not to go outside, even when help arrives.
The National Guard troops are picking people up and taking them to emergency shelters, according to city authorities.
An estimated 20,000 people are trapped in their homes in the city, according to NCB TV. Many streets in the south remain under several feet of water, according to a city website.
When the storm hit, the Hudson river breached its banks, sending floodwater pouring into Hoboken, a commuter city located a ferry ride away from New York. The water is not expected to recede for 24 to 48 hours.
More than half of all gasoline service stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were shut today because of power outages and depleted fuel supplies, frustrating attempts to restore normal life after Hurricane Sandy, industry officials said.