First signs of normality emerge after storm Sandy

First signs of normal life emerge but power and transport remain a problem

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 7:21am

Two airports and Wall Street reopened yesterday, bringing the first signs of normality back to storm-battered New York, as US President Barack Obama headed on a politically charged inspection of spectacular damage in neighbouring New Jersey.

The Big Apple, reduced to a standstill by one of the biggest storms in its history on Monday and Tuesday, was only just starting to re-emerge from the wreckage. The New York Stock Exchange, which had its first two-day, weather-related closure since 1888, reopened without a hitch.

And in a move bringing relief to snarled flight schedules around the country, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports made a limited reopening, although LaGuardia was still shut. At last count, 19,500 flights had been cancelled because of superstorm Sandy, tracking service said.

In another bright spot, buses were back on New York streets. However, the subway, flooded in places during the storm, was still closed and dense road traffic made for painfully slow commutes.

Swaths of New York, including many skyscrapers in lower Manhattan, remained without electricity, and schools throughout the city were closed.

Obama, who had suspended his re-election campaign, but was constantly in the headlines as he responded to Hurricane Sandy, was set to make a prominent visit to New Jersey.

Mitt Romney looked to return to full speed after three days of being forced to tone down his political attacks and watch Obama dominate media coverage. The Republican candidate had three campaign events scheduled in Florida, a swing state that he must win.

New York police raised the storm-related death toll to 24 yesterday, with the overall US toll approaching 50. Another 67 people died as Sandy swept through the Caribbean last week.

The presidential election, which also went into a hiatus during the storm, was likewise crawling back to life just days before the November 6 polling day.

As of yesterday, nearly two million customers had electricity restored, but another 6.2 million across 16 states remained without power, the Department of Energy said.

Insured losses from Sandy could run between US$7 billion and US$15 billion, according to initial industry estimates.