US residents struggle in wake of historic superstorm
Millions of homes remained without power on the Northeast coast of the United States Thursday as the region struggled to return to normal life in the wake of superstorm Sandy, less than a week before the country votes in presidential elections.
As floodwaters receded and power began to return to homes and businesses, residents along the battered East Coast faced the mammoth task of returning to normal life after superstorm Sandy devastated large swaths of the region.
The death toll had climbed to at least 64 people by Wednesday, and with the scale of the devastation becoming clearer, some analysts were predicting that Sandy would be one of the costliest storms in US history.
Thirty people were killed in New York state, nine in Maryland, and six each in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Five other states also reported fatalities. Homeowners from New Jersey to Connecticut wearily inspected flooded and burned-down houses, wondering how they would put their lives back on track.
Restoring the usual frenetic pace of the region, which includes some of the country’s busiest metropolitan areas, will take days. But rebuilding the hardest-hit towns and transport systems will take considerably longer.
Some six million homes and businesses in 15 states remained without power on Wednesday, down from a high of nearly 8.5 million in the immediate aftermath of the storm, surpassing the previous record of 8.4 million customers who were left in the dark by last year's Hurricane Irene.
New York power company Con Edison restored power to tens of thousands of residents in Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn on Wednesday, but said it could take up to four days to reestablish electricity to all its customers. Some 719,000 New Yorkers remained without power Wednesday night.
New York's three major airports were expected to reopen on Thursday morning with limited flights. Some of the city’s subway lines, which suffered the worst damage in their 108-year history when floodwaters inundated the tracks, were also set to resume on Thursday.
The New York Stock Exchange, running on generator power, resumed trading Wednesday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders.
But millions of residents of the New York metropolitan area still do not have a way to get to work. Commuter trains to northern New York and Long Island were still suspended on Thursday. And more than half of the gas stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were closed due to power outages and depleted fuel supplies, industry officials said.
Back to the campaign
President Barack Obama landed in New Jersey on Wednesday, where Sandy made landfall on Monday evening, and took a helicopter tour of the devastated shoreline with Governor Chris Christie.
Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney put their presidential campaigns on hold as the storm hit, but the incumbent has stayed in the spotlight as he addressed citizens in the path of the storm and assessed the aftermath.
“He has worked incredibly closely with me since before the storm hit,” Governor Christie, a Republican and usually a tough critic of Obama, said of the president on Wednesday. “I cannot thank the President enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state and for the people of our state.”
Romney limited his attacks on the president while campaigning Wednesday in the swing state of Florida, and his campaign has appeared at a loss over how to deal with the praise Obama has received from Christie
Obama was to resume campaigning on Thursday with visits to Nevada and Colorado, followed by a stop Friday in Ohio, which is considered one of the most critical swing states.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)