The most devastating storm in decades to hit the most densely populated U.S. region cut off modern communication and left millions without power Tuesday, as thousands who fled their waterlogged homes wondered when, if, life would return to normal.
A weakening Sandy, the hurricane turned fearsome superstorm, killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, and still wasn't finished. It inched inland across Pennsylvania, ready to bank toward western New York state to dump more of its water and likely cause more havoc Tuesday night.Behind it: a dazed, inundated New York City, a drenched Atlantic Coast and a moonscape of disarray and debris, from unmoored shore-town boardwalks to submerged mass-transit systems to delicate presidential politics.
"Nature," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assessing the damage to his city, "is an awful lot more powerful than we are."
More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly 2 million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up under water â€” as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day from weather, the first time that has happened since a blizzard in 1888. The city's subway system, the lifeblood of more than 5 million residents, was damaged like never before and closed indefinitely, and Consolidated Edison said electricity in and around New York could take a week to restore.
"Everybody knew it was coming. Unfortunately, it was everything they said it was," said Sal Novello, a construction executive who rode out the storm with his wife, Lori, in the Long Island town of Lindenhurst, and ended up with 2.1 metres of water in the basement.
The scope of the storm's damage wasn't known yet. Though early predictions of river flooding in Sandy's inland path were petering out,colder temperatures made snow the main product of Sandy's slow march from the sea. Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with 2 feet (0.6 metres) of snow by Tuesday afternoon, and drifts 4 feet (1.2 metres) deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border in the South.