New York/Washington (dpa) - People across the north-eastern United States began cleaning up Tuesday in the aftermath of Sandy, an unprecedented superstorm that caused at least 30 deaths and carved a wide swath of damage across the region.
Up to 8 million households were without power from South Carolina to Maine and west to Ohio. Transportation systems in New York andmajor international airports were closed. The death toll appeared likely to rise.
Damage from the storm could reach tens of billions of dollars, according to initial projections. Sandy first blew across Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas, killing 67people last week in the Caribbean before turning north.
Over the US East Coast, the storm collided over the mid-Atlantic region with a cold front from the north-west, creating unprecedented conditions.
New Jersey, where Sandy punched ashore late Monday, suffered severe coastal flooding and power outages. Parts of the state received nearly 30 centimetres of rain.
Later, while touring damage, he told reporters: "I've never seen anything as devastating as this in my life." New Jersey reported beach erosion, homes knocked off their foundations and amusement park rides pushed into the sea. More than 5,500 people were in shelters Tuesday in New Jersey amid forced evacuations.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sandy's destruction would "be felt for quite some time." The waterlogged subway system - thelargest in the United States - could remain closed until next week due to flooding, he said at a news conference.
One photograph showed water up to the platform at a subway station on 86th Street in Manhattan. Tunnels from New Jersey to Manhattan were closed during the storm, and only the Lincoln Tunnel was reopened Tuesday, while most bridges were open again. Grand Central and Penn stations, two major transportation hubs used daily by millions of people, were closed.
There were 76 shelters open in the city for hundreds of thousands of people forced out of low-lying homes. Crews were working to clear streets and make sure bridges were safe, Bloomberg said, adding that the best thing New Yorkers could do to help get the city back to normal was stay home.
He declared a "major disaster" in New York and New Jersey, making federal money available to state and local governments, as well as tobusinesses and residents with losses in New York City, Atlantic City and surrounding areas.
The storm dumped up to 1 metre of snow across the Appalachian Mountain state of West Virginia, where blizzard warnings were still in effect late Tuesday.
Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to post-tropical cyclone Monday night, and was moving north-west over central Pennsylvania, the Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said late Tuesday. The maximum sustained winds were 72 kilometres per hour, and severe weather warnings were issued for the Great Lakes region.