New York was staggering back to life in the wake of devastating superstorm Sandy early on Friday as the death toll from the storm continued to rise.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the storm had killed at least 37 people in the city, with the number likely to rise. At least 90 people have been reported dead across the 15 states hit by the hurricane on Monday night.
More bodies are being found as police and firefighters continue "their lifesaving mission, going block-by-block and door-to-door in the areas devastated by the hurricane", Bloomberg said, adding that the city will begin handing out food and water. Some 650,000 people were still without power in New York early on Friday.
The total economic damage from Sandy could run as high as $50 billion, according to new estimates from the forecasting firm Eqecat. That would make it the second-costliest storm in US history after Hurricane Katrina.
Return to life
New York City moved closer to resuming its frenetic pace with the return of limited service on its subway system on Thursday. The city's three major airports also restarted limited service and the New York Stock Exchange resumed trading. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor — the busiest train line in the country — will take commuters along the heavily populated East Coast again starting on Friday.
The slowed services left hundreds of people lined up for buses, while traffic jams snaked for miles and long lines formed at petrol stations.
Hundreds of thousands in downtown Manhattan remain in the dark, roughly south of the Empire State Building, four days after floodwaters knocked out electricity. Electric company Con Edison said it was on track to restore power by Saturday but said some New Yorkers would have to wait until November 11 before electricity is restored.
Concerns are on the rise for the elderly and poor trapped on the upper floors of the city's housing complexes, who face pitch-black hallways, no elevators and dwindling food supplies. New York’s governor ordered deliveries of food and drinking water to help them.
New Jersey devastated
At least 12 people were reported dead in the state, and many isolated districts were still being searched. The National Guard is rescuing people trapped in flooded homes in the city of Hoboken.
Some 1.8 million people were still without electricity four days after the storm and fuel shortages were becoming critical, with huge queues of cars at the rare gas stations open in the state.
The US Coast Guard, which is overseeing the cleanup, said refinery operator Motiva had estimated that up to 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel had leaked from a plant at Sewaren, New Jersey on Thursday, further complicating recovery efforts.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)