President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in the New York City area and New Jersey Tuesday after Superstorm Sandy pounded the Northeast, killing at least 28 people, sweeping homes into the ocean, flooding large swaths of coastal areas and crippling public transit.
As the day wore on, millions without power faced the prospect of up to a week without heat, light or refrigeration, while authorities tried to measure the full wrath of the once-in-a-generation hurricane.
The deaths included at least 10 people in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday, adding "tragically, we expect that number to go up."
Obama, speaking at the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Washington, said Tuesday that the federal government would do all it could to help local authorities cope with damage.
The storm, he warned, is "not yet over ... it is still moving north.'' The president will visit damaged areas in New Jersey on Wednesday, the White House said.
Details of the devastation were also becoming clear:
- More than 8.2 million homes and businesses were without power across 20 states, and half of the outages were in New York and New Jersey, according to a tally by the federal government. NBC News meteorologist Bill Karins warned to "expect the cleanup and power outage restoration to continue right up through Election Day."
- A massive fire destroyed at least 80 homes in Breezy Point, a seaside community in Queens, N.Y. Firefighters had difficulty reaching the blaze due to the severe weather. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
- Ten subway tunnels under the East River in New York City were flooded, leading MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota to declare: "The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night." Subway service was unlikely to resume for 4 to 5 days, Bloomberg said.
- PATH train service between Manhattan and New Jersey is likely to be suspended for 7-10 days, Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday.
- Half of Hoboken, N.J., was underwater, preventing emergency crews from reaching areas of the city, according to Mayor Dawn Zimmer. "We want people to be aware that it's a very dangerous situation," she told MSNBC.
- At least four towns in north New Jersey were submerged by up to 6 feet of water after a levee broke.
- New York University Medical Center evacuated 215 patients to other hospitals because its backup generator was out.
- The storm surge destroyed homes, boats and other property in beach communities like Long Beach Island, N.J., and Fire Island, N.Y. Sand several blocks inland remained after the water receded.
- More than 15,000 flights have been canceled so far and New York City's airports remained closed Tuesday. Amtrak canceled all of its Northeast Corridor rail service, in addition to some other lines.
- A half-dozen nuclear power plants were shut down or impacted, while the nation's oldest facility declared a rare "alert" after the record storm surge pushed flood waters high enough to endanger a key cooling system.