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Region Devastated by Sandy Struggles to Resume Daily Life

Electricity may not return to some regions for at least a week
Updated Wednesday, Oct. 31, 7:20 p.m. ET

A man boards his home in the aftermath of a storm surge from Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) - People along the battered U.S. East Coast took the first cautious steps to reclaim their daily routines Wednesday, even as about 20,000 people remained trapped at home in a single New Jersey city and the search for victims continued. The superstorm's death toll rose to at least 63.

The New York Stock Exchange came back to life, and two major New York airports reopened to begin the long process of moving stranded travelers around the world.

President Barack Obama landed in New Jersey, which was hardest hit by Monday's hurricane-driven storm, and he took a helicopter tour of the devastation with Gov. Chris Christie. "We're going to be here for the long haul," Obama told people at one emergency shelter.

For the first time since the storm pummeled the heavily populated Northeast, doing billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over New York City, for a while.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since a blizzard in 1888.

New York's three major airports were expected to be open Thursday morning with limited flights. Limited service on the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, would resume Thursday.

It was clear that restoring the region to its ordinarily frenetic pace could take days - and that rebuilding the hardest-hit communities and the transportation networks could take considerably longer.

There were still only hints of the economic impact of the storm.

RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Aerial View of Devastated 'Jersey Shore' Town

Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted it would cause $20 billion in damage and $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business. Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated losses up to $15 billion.

About 6 million homes and businesses were still without power, mostly in New York and New Jersey. Electricity was out as far west as Wisconsin in the Midwest and as far south as the Carolinas.

In New Jersey, National Guard troops arrived in the heavily flooded city of Hoboken, just across the river from New York City, to help evacuate about 20,000 people still stuck in their homes and deliver ready-to-eat meals. Live wires dangled in floodwaters that Mayor Dawn Zimmer said were rapidly mixing with sewage.

Tempers flared. A man screamed at emergency officials in Hoboken about why food and water had not been delivered to residents just a few blocks away. The man, who would not give his name, said he blew up an air mattress to float over to a staging area.

RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Facade of NYC Building Collapses During Superstorm

As New York crept toward a semi-normal business day, morning rush-hour traffic was heavy as buses returned to the streets and bridges linking Manhattan to the rest of the world were open.

A huge line formed at the Empire State Building as the observation deck reopened.

Tourism returned, but the city's vast and aging infrastructure remained a huge challenge.

Power company Consolidated Edison said it could be the weekend before power is restored to Manhattan and Brooklyn, perhaps longer for other New York boroughs and the New York suburbs.

Amtrak said the amount of water in train tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers was unprecedented, but it said it planned to restore some service on Friday to and from New York City - its busiest corridor - and would give details Thursday.

In Connecticut, some residents of Fairfield returned home in kayaks and canoes to inspect widespread damage left by retreating floodwaters that kept other homeowners at bay.

"The uncertainty is the worst," said Jessica Levitt, who was told it could be a week before she can enter her house. "Even if we had damage, you just want to be able to do something. We can't even get started."

In New York, residents of the flooded beachfront neighborhood of Breezy Point returned home to find fire had taken everything the water had not. A huge blaze destroyed perhaps 100 homes in the close-knit community where many had stayed behind despite being told to evacuate.

John Frawley, who lived about five houses from the fire's edge, said he spent the night terrified "not knowing if the fire was going to jump the boulevard and come up to my house."

"I stayed up all night," he said. "The screams. The fire. It was horrifying."

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Jesus Christ

November 02 2012 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Still better than Flint

November 01 2012 at 2:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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October 31 2012 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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October 31 2012 at 11:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Charles Iverson Hoop

We will recover. It is the American Way. Home Depot and Lowe's are good bets in the next few months. God Bless America. We are praying for the victims. God Bless you too.

October 31 2012 at 10:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kris Nelson

Yes, our country is deep in debt, and these storms and the damage are a perfect example. I hope our next President can help pull us out of debt, and help to create good and sustainable jobs. Also, a better environmental impact would help things as well. More awareness about our environment, and also conservation of resources.

ROMNEY/RYAN 2012!!!!

October 31 2012 at 10:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Nassau County and the rest of Long Island pays the highest taxes in the country. What are the property taxes going to look like now that most of the homes are worth nothing due to the extensive damage. I am sure no tax break will be given since the country is in debt and much of the needed money comes form NY and NJ

October 31 2012 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nassau County has the highest property tax what is their taxes going to look like now that most owner have property damage?

October 31 2012 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Some of you would be surprised at how much of the inlands were damaged too by this storm, not just the barrier islands , I live on Long Island 66ft above sea level, and though my neighborhood only has some branches down, and we have power,cable hot water neighborhoods around the corner from me ect are damaged trees on house wires right over homes loose wires is scary,...

Also seeing what happen in seaside and Long beach island Nj,point pleasant ect Im already waiting on when I can started donations of clothing I don't use ect for these people who lost a lot of things.i even offered to friends I have here on Long Island to come to my house to get warm with heat or take a shower if they want .

October 31 2012 at 9:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sure that there are many injured...Where is that Hospital ship that we seem to send to help all those fifth world countries?

October 31 2012 at 9:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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