- Fire and water scar a city
- 'Smiles born out of relief - we made it'
- Campaigns put on hold, except on hustings
The number of deaths in New York from superstorm Sandy has risen from 18 to 24, police say.
Please, if you have an extra dollar or two, please, send them along and keep the people who have been in harm's way.Mitt Romney
Many of the storm victims were killed by falling trees uprooted by the torrential wind and rains unleashed by the massive storm.
Hurricane Sandy's trail of destruction
Superstorm Sandy leaves a trail of destruction in New Jersey and New York.PT0M0S 620 349
Other bodies have been found in flood-hit sections of the city which were inundated with unprecedented amounts of water, while one seafront district was ravaged by more than 20 blazes.
Officials have said New York's death toll could mount as the search for victims continues.
The increase in New York raises the death toll in the United States and Canada to at least 49.
Surverying the damage ... Barack Obama is greeted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Photo: AP
Another 67 deaths in Caribbean countries were blamed on Sandy.
President Barack Obama got an up-close look at the devastation wrought by superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, forsaking partisan campaigning days before the close election in favour of a disaster tour guided by the Republican governor of New Jersey.
Obama, travelling with the federal government's emergency relief director Craig Fugate, linked up with New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie for the tour, with his re-election bid still on hold ahead of next Tuesday's national vote.
Commuters board a ferry from Jersey City on the first day of opening since Hurricane Sandy. Photo: Getty Images
Christie, an outspoken ally of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has been effusive in his praise of Obama's handling of the devastating storm, raising eyebrows in his own party.
The governor greeted the president at the steps of Air Force One after his short flight from Washington and the two men boarded Obama's Marine One helicopter for an aerial tour of the disaster area.
Obama left the campaign trail on Monday to return to Washington to manage the federal relief effort. He has announced plans to get back to campaigning on Thursday, ahead of the November 6 election.
A man carries his wife through the floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jersey. Photo: Reuters
Romney, who had also mostly suspended campaigning out of sensitivity to storm victims, was back stumping for voters, in Florida, on Wednesday, albeit on a muted level.
"Please, if you have an extra dollar or two, please, send them along and keep the people who have been in harm's way... in your thoughts and prayers," he told about 2000 people in a Florida airport hangar, as American Red Cross donation messages flashed on large video screens.
"We come together in times like this, and we want to make sure they have a speedy and quick recovery from their financial and, in many cases personal, loss," Romney added.
Passengers at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport remain stranded. Photo: AFP
While Romney rapidly shifted to his message that "it's time for America to take a different course", the challenger held off on direct attacks against Obama as the president presided over storm duties in Washington.
Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports reopened with limited service just after 7.00am at New York's LaGuardia Airport, which suffered far worse damage and where water covered parts of runways, remained closed.
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 that link them together could take considerably longer.
Getting back to normal ... people line up for the bus on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Photo: Reuters
About 6.5 million homes and businesses were still without power, including four million in New York and New Jersey. Electricity was out as far west as Wisconsin and as far south as the Carolinas.
The scale of the challenge could be seen across the Hudson River in New Jersey, where National Guard troops arrived in the heavily flooded city of Hoboken to help evacuate thousands still stuck in their homes.
Live wires dangled in floodwaters that Mayor Dawn Zimmer said were rapidly mixing with sewage.
America wakes to the destruction caused by superstorm Sandy. Photo: AP Photo/Julio Cortez
And new problems arose when firefighters were unable to reach blazes rekindled by natural gas leaks in the heavily hit shore town of Mantoloking.
Outages in the state's two largest cities, Newark and Jersey City, left traffic signals dark, resulting in fender-benders at intersections where police were not directing traffic. At one Jersey City supermarket, there were long lines to get bread and use an electrical outlet to charge mobile phones.
As New York began its second day after the megastorm, morning rush-hour traffic was heavy as people started returning to work. There was even a sign of normality: commuters waiting at bus stops. School was out for a third day.
The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, and the Holland Tunnel, between New York and New Jersey, remained closed. But bridges into the city were open, and city buses were running, free of charge.
On the Brooklyn Bridge, closed earlier because of high winds, joggers and bikers made their way across before sunrise. One cyclist carried a flashlight. Car traffic on the bridge was busy.
Bloomberg said it could be the weekend before the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, is running again. High water prevented inspectors from immediately assessing damage to key equipment.
Amtrak laid out plans to resume runs in the Northeast on Wednesday, with modified service between Newark, NJ, and points south. But flooding continued to prevent service to and from New York's Penn Station. Amtrak said the water in train tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers was unprecedented.
"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."
And in New York, residents of the flooded beachfront neighbourhood of Breezy Point in 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.
There were still only hints of the economic impact of the storm.
Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted it would cause $US20 billion ($19.38 billion) in damage and $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business. Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated losses up to $15 billion.