Sandy death toll rises to at least 85, gas shortages and millions still without power


Heavy traffic exits the George Washington Bridge onto the Henry Hudson Parkway as morning commuters drive into Manhattan November 1, 2012 in New York as the city recovers from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

NEW YORK — President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail Thursday as the massive rescue effort from Hurricane Sandy continued.

About 4.7 million homes and businesses in 15 US states remain without power, Reuters reported. There was traffic chaos across New York, and long lines formed at gas stations as the shortage became evident.

Sadly, the death toll continued to climb, and now stands at 85 in North America, as emergency workers and the National Guard searched house-to-house through coastal towns, according to the Associated Press

It included 37 lives lost in New York, among them parents, Richard and Elizabeth Everett, who were killed in front of their two sons, 11 and 14, as they drove their car onto their property on Monday night.

Police said their sons were in the backseat of the car when a large tree hit the front section, crushing their parents, the Daily Mail reported.

There was some encouraging news, however — for the first time in four days, New Yorkers woke to the steady rumble of the subway, and flights resumed at New York's LaGuardia airport, the last of the three major airports to reopen, the New York Post reported.

Most residents in Manhattan will have their electricity back by Saturday, Con Edison, the electricity supplier said.

But for other parts of New York, it was disheartening news with the supplier saying it could be up to two weeks before all five boroughs had power restored.

In New Jersey, one of the worst-hit areas, the National Guard continued to rescue thousands of stranded residents, but there was no end in sight for when people could return to their homes.

The streets of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs were clogged in traffic chaos with an unprecedented crush of cars, trucks and pedestrians, prompting Mayor Bloomberg to impose car pooling on all major crossings. 

After a four-day hiatus, the presidential race resumed with Obama making stops Thursday in Las Vegas, Boulder, and Green Bay, while Mitt Romney was focused on Virginia with stops in Richmond, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach, USA Today reported.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told NBC New York that while the president remains focused on the storm recovery, "there is a reality of a political election happening in five days and he will return to the trail to make the case to the American people on why they should send him back for four more years."