By Alex Fuller
Residents of the northeastern United States had a chance to catch their breath Tuesday afternoon in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which had left almost 40 people dead in the U.S. as of 3 p.m. and left millions facing prolonged power outages.
In New York City, bridges were reopened at noon Tuesday and the New York Stock Exchange is expected to reopen Wednesday, while Atlantic City in neighbouring New Jersey was subjected to severe flooding Monday night after a natural levee was overwhelmed, several sources reported, including the New York Times.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the damage to the state “incalculable,” and the Washington Post quoted Christie as saying, “The level of devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable.“
Along the Atlantic coast, schools and businesses were shuttered, and public transit systems ground to a halt as the storm advanced north from the Caribbean Sea, as detailed in an article by the National Post.
UPDATES ONLINE: U.S. National Hurricane Center
A remote neighbourhood known as Breezy Point in the Queens borough of New York City was devastated by a fire caused by the storm, with dozens of homes on a low-lying stretch of land destroyed, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a late morning press conference.
“Our first responders have been doing a heroic job protecting our city and saving lives – and they are still fighting fires and conducting live-saving search and rescue missions. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” Bloomberg said.
“The storm brought something like 23 serious fires to parts of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, as well as City Island and the Bronx,” the mayor added.
The wheels were in motion Tuesday to assess and repair the damage as the massive weather phenomenon moved on.
“I think we’re right in the middle of it,” Donna Porstner, communications manager at Connecticut-based humanitarian aid agency Americares, told Humber News. “We have emergency response teams ready to be deployed.”
The situation is still unfolding because people are in the process of returning to evacuated areas, and information continues to come in, Porstner said. The next 24-48 hours are expected to leave the agency and other disaster relief groups with a “much better picture,” she added.
“We are on full alert, connecting with partners throughout the vast area affected by the storm,” Garrett Ingoglia, vice president of emergency response at Americares, said in a news release.
An article posted on the American Red Cross’ website described that organization’s efforts to provide disaster relief, which included having over 100 emergency shelters ready for use in nine states as of Sunday night, with more set to open.
Hurricane Sandy has been considered an unusual weather event despite being only a Category 1 hurricane at its worst. The storm’s massive size and combination with a separate winter storm resulted in heavy snowfall in the Appalachians, prompting a blizzard warning.
Hurricane Sandy also killed 69 people in the Caribbean region before beginning to move north.
The vast storm made landfall in New Jersey late Monday evening, and it has now been branded a post-tropical cyclone by the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
By midday Tuesday was expected to continue on a westward track across southern Pennsylvania. It was expected to turn toward western New York state by nightfall and was expected to move north into Canada by Wednesday, the Centre said.