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Atlantic Coast Wakes Up to the Nightmare

Superstorm Sandy

turned out to be everything it was promised to be and more. The hurricane ripped through the Eastern Seaboard on Monday, leaving millions without power, destroying homes, causing rampant flooding, impacting air travel and bringing several major cities to a grinding halt. At least 33 deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on Sandy, adding to the 67 people who died earlier when the storm pummeled the Caribbean.

“The most devastating news is that we lost 15 New Yorkers last night,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday. “That is our best estimate at this time. My guess is, if anything, that number is going to get larger. And that is really the worst news of the entire episode.”

The storm made landfall Monday evening in New Jersey with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour. It hit the New York City area particularly hard, with a record-breaking 13-foot surge of seawater causing massive flooding in the city. At least 80 homes were destroyed after a fire erupted in Queens.

President Obama declared a “major disaster” in Manhattan and Long Island.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the storm was probably the worst the city has ever faced. He said power could be out in the city for another two to three days, while much of the mass transit system, crippled by catastrophic flooding, will be shut down indefinitely. The MTA has announced limited bus service in Manhattan and, at least temporarily, the fares will be free.

All three major airports in the New York City remained closed.

The NYSE and Nasdaq, which were shut down for a second straight day on Tuesday, were expected to reopen on Wednesday despite widespread flooding around Wall Street.

In hard-hit New Jersey, authorities were still assessing the scope of the damage as rescue and recovery efforts continued.

“We are in the midst of urban search and rescue. Our teams are moving as fast as they can,” Gov. Chris Christie said. “The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we’ve ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point.”

Many residents of the mid-Atlantic Coast area had heeded warnings and evacuated ahead of Sandy. The Red Cross estimates that roughly 11,000 people spent the night in shelters across 16 states. Residents were advised to stay away from their homes until officials say it is safe to return.

The Associated Press via The Huffington Post:

At least 7.4 million people across the East were without power. Airlines canceled more than 15,000 flights around the world, and it could be days before the mess is untangled and passengers can get where they’re going.

The storm also put the White House campaign on hold just a week before Election Day. President Barack Obama canceled a third straight day of campaigning, scratching events scheduled for Wednesday in swing state Ohio, which got clobbered by Sandy’s winds as the storm pushed west.

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