East Coast crippled by massive storm, death toll climbs
By Dhanya Skariachan and Martinne Geller
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of people were left reeling in the aftermath of the whipping winds and heavy rains of the massive storm Sandy on Tuesday as New York City and many parts of the eastern United States struggled with epic flooding and extensive power outages.
The storm killed at least 40 people, including at least 18 in New York City, and insurance companies started to tally billions of dollars in losses.
Sandy, which crashed ashore with hurricane-force winds on Monday near the New Jersey gambling resort of Atlantic City, was the biggest storm to hit the country in generations. It swamped parts of New York's subway system and lower Manhattan's Wall Street district, closing financial markets for a second day.
Businesses and homes along New Jersey's shore were wrecked and communities were submerged under floodwater across a large area. More than 8 million homes and businesses in several states were without electricity as trees toppled by Sandy's fierce winds took down power lines. Across the region, crews began the monumental task of getting power back on.
The storm reached as far inland as Ohio and caused thousands of flight cancellations. Cellphone outages also were widespread. Parts of West Virginia were buried under 3 feet (1 meter) of drifting snow from the storm.
Some East Coast cities like Washington, Philadelphia and Boston were spared the worst effects from Sandy and appeared ready to return to normal by Wednesday. But New York City, large parts of New Jersey and some other areas will need at least several days to get back on their feet.
"The devastation is unthinkable," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said after seeing pictures of the New Jersey shore.
The storm interrupted the U.S. presidential campaign just a week before the November 6 election. The damage it caused raised questions about whether polling places in some hard-hit communities would be ready to open by next Tuesday. Continued...