The scale of the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy is mounting today as theÂ death toll continues to rise – currently 48 people across the US and Canada haveÂ been reported dead, but the final figure is expected to be significantly higher.
President Obama declared a ‘major disaster’Â in New York and Long Island as floodedÂ streets were littered with cars, homesÂ were razed to the ground and tankers washed up on shore.
The President warned that Sandy ‘is not yetÂ over’ and announced that he would visit New Jersey on Wednesday to visit theÂ scenes of the destruction.
Hundreds of thousands of people areÂ withoutÂ power in New York and the transit system, schools, the stockÂ exchange andÂ Broadway are all out of action after a 13ft wall of waterÂ caused by the stormÂ surge and high tides brought severe flooding toÂ subways and road tunnels.
Sandy, one of the biggest storms to everÂ descend on the country, hit the mainland at 6.30pm local time yesterday havingÂ laid waste to large parts of the coast during the day.
The storm that made landfall in NewÂ JerseyÂ on Monday evening with 80mph sustained winds, cut power to more than 7.4 millionÂ homes andÂ businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclearÂ plants and stopped the presidential campaign cold.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg saysÂ the death toll in the America’s most populous city is up to ten – two children,Â aged 11 and 13, were killed instantly in the city by a falling tree. Many of the total number of victims were said to haveÂ been killed by falling trees.
Nearly 200 firefighters spent the nightÂ battling to get a blaze under control in the Queens, but over 80 homes wereÂ flattened in the fire.
On Wednesday, the President plans toÂ thankÂ first responders in New Jersey as he surveys the damage with state GovernorÂ Chris Christie, who has praised Obama’s leadership in dealingÂ with theÂ disaster.
Speaking from the headquarters of the RedÂ Cross in Washington DC, Obama said that Sandy ‘is not yet over’.
Warning there were still risks of floodingÂ and downed power lines, he described the storm as ‘heartbreaking for the nation’ and, offering his thoughtsÂ and prayers to the victims, he added: ‘America isÂ with you.’
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says itÂ could be three days or moreÂ before power is restored to hundreds of thousandsÂ of people now in theÂ dark.
He is giving no estimate on when publicÂ transit would be running, though he expects some buses be running later today.
He said there have nor been any storm-relatedÂ fatalities in NYC hospitals.
The storm was once Hurricane Sandy butÂ combined with two wintry systems toÂ become a huge hybrid storm whose centerÂ smashed ashore late Monday inÂ New Jersey. New York City was perfectlyÂ positioned to absorb the worstÂ of its storm surge – a record 13 feet.
The dead included two who drowned in a homeÂ and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment, the mayor said. AÂ 23-year-old woman died by stepping into a puddle near a liveÂ electrical wire.
A man and a woman were crushed by a fallingÂ tree. An off-duty officer onÂ Staten Island who ushered his relatives to theÂ attic of his homeÂ apparently became trapped in the basement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 156 rescue missionsÂ were made by state and city police.
‘It’s fair to say that the state police andÂ NYPD and the National Guard saved hundreds of lives yesterday,’ heÂ said.