Hurricane Sandy's trail of destruction


A car crushed by a tree in the financial district of New York City.


Andrew Burton

NEW YORK — Thirty-eight people were killed, homes burned to the ground, and streets and homes were flooded as Hurricane Sandy tore through New York and the east coast last night.

In scenes that could have come from a Hollywood movie, a 13 foot wave spilled into Lower Manhattan, surging through the financial district, into major tunnels, the subway and flooding the construction pit at the World Trade Center, CNN reported.

By early today, Tuesday, the full impact was becoming devastatingly clear: huge swathes of the city under water and more than 7 million customers were without power in at least 10 states. 

The death toll kept steadily rising throughout the day, and by 3 p.m. at least 38 lives had been lost across the United States, taking the death toll from the disaster, which started last week in the Caribbean, to 84. 

Among those killed in New York were two children who died when a tree fell on them in Westchester County, the Daily Mail reported.

President Obama this morning declared "major disasters" in New York and Long Island, and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local funding. 

He is expected to hold a press conference later today, but in a televised statement from the White House yesterday before Sandy made landfall, the President urged residents to listen to authorities advice, and also be patient. 

"There are going to be a lot of backlogs, and even after the storm has cleared it's going to take a considerable amount of time for airlines, subways, trains and so forth potentially to get back on schedule," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

Hospitals were continuing to scramble today, in particular NYU Langone Medical Center, which was flooded and had to be evacuated. According to NBC, nurses manually pumped air to the lungs of patients on respirators.

In Manhattan, the usually congested and crowded streets remained eerily empty for a second day, as people stayed indoors to avoid flying debris, loose construction cranes and falling branches.

Thousands of flights remain grounded, and it could take up to four days to get the water out of the subway tunnels in New York and have the city's mass transit system up and running again.

Then there is the economic cost. While it is difficult to determine at this early stage, a government prediction told CNN that Sandy's wind damage alone could equate to more than $7billion in economic loss.  

ABC News reported that although the worst of Sandy is over, high winds of 65 mph will continue to whip through the northeast, but will weaken at a steady rate today, according to a National Weather Service briefing at 5 a.m.