— With New York's financial markets reopening Wednesday, the job of cleaning up and repairing the damage left by Hurricane Sandy moves into high gear. The task ahead is enormous.
The opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday morning was one of first signs that business life is returning to lower Manhattan. The exchange was closed for two business days - almost without precedent - as the region was walloped by Hurricane Sandy.
But near the Exchange, thousands of apartment buildings and businesses remain dark, and a trail of mud and debris lies everywhere. Power failed after a wall of water came ashore during the storm Monday night.
Numbers document the devastation: an estimated $50 billlion in economic losses, at least 50 people dead, ground and air transportation in America’s largest city still limited and a subway system that moves millions of people every day idled by flooding. Millions of people throughout the region remain without power and telephone service; tens of thousands have been evacuated or forced to leave their homes.
A worker uses a backhoe to clear sand and debris that was carried onshore by surge from superstorm Sandy in Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012.
New Jersey's seaside towns will take years to recover from the beating they took. Fires broke out in some communities surrounded by floodwaters, and efforts to rescue trapped residents continue.
President Barack Obama, who was visiting New Jersey Wednesday, promises the storm's victims that the federal government will do everything it can to help.
"My message to the governors and the mayors, and through them to the communities that have been hit so hard, is that we're going to do everything we can to get resources to you and make sure that any unmet need that is identified, we are responding to it as quickly as possible," the president said.
Throughout the mid-Atlantic states, people are digging out, removing downed trees, clearing roads, salvaging possessions from destroyed homes and trying to return to normal. The remnants of Sandy, no longer a hurricane but still a very large, unstable weather system, dumped snow on West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, and headed north into Canada.
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Dave Skudin empties his home of household items that were destroyed by flooding from Superstorm Sandy on Nov 1, 2012, in Long Beach, N.Y.
Tricia Burke walks over debris which washed up onto her property in the wake of superstorm Sandy, Nov. 1, 2012, in Brick, N.J.
As temperatures begin to drop, people wait in line to fill containers with gas at a Shell gasoline filling station Nov. 1, 2012, in Keyport, N.J.
Tunisia Wragg, left, a staff member with New York Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, checks a cell phone at a charging station in Chinatown, NY, Nov 1, 2012.
Morning commuters walk and bicycle across New York's Brooklyn Bridge, Oct. 31, 2012.
Water gushes from a hose as it is pumped out of a basement in New York's financial district, Oct. 31, 2012.
People line up at a coffee truck in New York's financial district, Oct. 31, 2012 ahead of the first opening for Wall Street this week following a two-day shutdown due to superstorm Sandy.
Members of the National Guard stand ready with large trucks used to pluck people from high water in Hoboken, N.J. , Oct. 31, 2012 in the wake of superstorm Sandy.
People in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, without power because of superstorm Sandy, wait for a chance to charge their mobile phones on an available generator setup on a sidewalk, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012.
Kathy and Jeffrey Frey pose for a photograph outside their home on 7th Street which is flooded from the effects of Hurricane Sandy on Oct., 30, 2012, in Bayville, N.Y.
A canoe sits in the lobby of an apartment building in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, October 30, 2012.
This photo provided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows the South Ferry subway station after it was flooded by seawater during superstorm Sandy on Oct. 30, 2012.
Pedestrians walk past the boardwalk and cars displaced by superstorm Sandy, near Rockaway Beach in the New York City borough of Queens, Oct. 30, 2012, in New York.
Residents look over the remains of burned homes in the Rockaways section of New York, October 30, 2012.
A beachfront house is damaged in the aftermath of yesterday's surge from superstorm Sandy, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York.
Peter Andrews removes belongings from his father's beachfront home, destroyed in the aftermath of a storm surge from superstorm Sandy, Oct. 30, 2012, in Coney Island's Sea Gate community in New York.
Taxis are submerged in floodwaters in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Oct. 30, 2012, in Weehawken, N.J.
People stand next to a house collapsed from superstorm Sandy in East Haven, Conn. on Oct. 30, 2012.
Christopher Hannafin, of South Kingstown, R.I., enters a friend's cottage through a window to salvage belongings from the structure destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, on Roy Carpenter's Beach, in the village of Matunuck, in South Kingstown, Oct. 30, 2012.
Zoe Jurusik, 20, paddleboards down a flooded city street in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Bethany Beach, Delaware, October 30, 2012.
This photo provided by Metropolitan Transportation Authority shows people boarding a bus, as partial bus service was restored on Oct. 30, 2012.
Jeff Willard lights a candle in his living room as his girlfriend, Diana Conte, back left, and her son, Ricky, wait for electricity to return in Ventnor City, N.J., Oct. 30, 2012.
People stop along the Brooklyn waterfront to look at the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, Oct. 30, 2012 in New York.