Sandy brings death and destruction to US
31 October, 2012
NEW YORK: Superstorm Sandy finally weakened on Tuesday but only after leaving a trail of destruction from the Caribbean to Canada with almost 100 dead, New York in chaos and millions without power.
The storm, which claimed 67 lives in the Caribbean and at least 35 in the US and Canada, has left an uncertain impact on the US presidential race.
US President Barack Obama declared a "major disaster" in New York as more than eight million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Maine were left without power and trading on Wall Street was suspended for a second day.
Millions of people were left reeling in the aftermath of monster storm as New York City and a wide swathe of the eastern US struggled with epic flooding and massive power outages.
Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds in New Jersey overnight as the biggest storm to hit the country in generations, swamped parts of New York's subway system and Manhattan's Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day. At least 18 people were reported killed along the eastern seaboard.
As the weakened but still sprawling storm system continued its trek inland, more than a million people in a dozen states along its path were still under orders to evacuate. Sandy left behind a trail of damage – homes underwater, trees toppled and power lines downed – up and down the Atlantic coast.
In the storm's wake, Obama issued federal emergency decrees for New York and New Jersey, declaring that "major disasters" existed in both states. One disaster-forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion, only half insured.
All along the East Coast, residents and business owners awoke to scenes of destruction.
Hurricane-force winds as high as 90 miles per hour (145 km per hour) were recorded, a meteorologist for the weather service in Brookhaven, New York said.
Firefighters doused a massive blaze in the Queens borough that destroyed more than 80 homes, and in northern New Jersey police in boats pulled residents from second-story windows after a levee broke.
The death toll continued to climb. Other storm-related deaths were reported elsewhere in New York state in addition to Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Toronto police also recorded one death - a woman hit by flying debris. Three towns in New Jersey, just west of New York City, were inundated with up to five feet of water after the nearby Hackensack River flooded, officials said.
Over 130,000 homes and businesses in Canada were without power by Tuesday morning after Sandy knocked down trees and power lines.