Hurricane Sandy: Death, devastation, darkness in US

Flooded streets

Residents up and down the battered mid-Atlantic region of the US woke on Tuesday to lingering waters, darkened homes and the daunting task of cleaning up from once-in-a-generation storm surges as Hurricane Sandy made landfall, before continuing inland as a downgraded storm.

Power remained out for roughly six million people, including a large swathe of Manhattan in New York. Debris-littered streets remained mostly deserted, bridges stayed closed and seven subway tunnels under the East River remained flooded.

The storm was the most destructive in the 108-year history of New York City's subway system, said Joseph J Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, while refusing to provide a timetable for restoring the transit service.

At least 16 deaths — including seven in the New York region — were tied to the storm, which also toppled trees and sparked fires.

President Obama, who returned to the White House from his campaign tour and met top advisers, said Monday that the storm would disrupt the rhythms of daily life. "Transportation is going to be tied up for a long time," he said, adding that besides flooding, there would probably be widespread power failures. While utility companies had lined up crews to begin making repairs, it could be slow going, he cautioned.

"The fact is, a lot of these emergency crews are not going to get into position to start restoring power until some of these winds die down," the President said. "That may take several days."

It was around 8 pm Monday (US east coast time) that hurricane-force winds hit mainland, extending up to 175 miles from the centre of the storm; tropical-storm-force winds spread out 485 miles from the centre. Forecasters said tropical-storm-force winds could stretch all the way north to Canada and all the way west to the Great Lakes. Heavy snow was expected in some states.

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