News / USA

NYC Tries to Get Back to Business

Workers try to clear boats and debris from the New Jersey Transit Morgan draw bridge in South Amboy, New Jersey after Monday's storm surge from Sandy pushed boats and cargo containers onto the train tracks, October 31, 2012.
Workers try to clear boats and debris from the New Jersey Transit Morgan draw bridge in South Amboy, New Jersey after Monday's storm surge from Sandy pushed boats and cargo containers onto the train tracks, October 31, 2012.
Parts of the storm-ravaged U.S. East Coast are trying to get back to business Wednesday.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street to ring the opening bell.  It is the first time traders have returned to work since Hurricane Sandy walloped the region, flooding parts of the city's famed subway system.

Two of New York's three airports are beginning limited services, though LaGuardia Airport remains closed because of flood damage.

Airports, rail service, and local public transit in other cities along the Eastern Seaboard are also resuming services.

But there are other signs that many areas still have a long way to go.

In New Jersey, floodwaters and floating debris hindered firefighters Wednesday as they tried to battle a series of natural gas fires in the coastal town of Mantoloking, where several homes burned to the ground two days ago.

Related video report by Suzanne Presto

Later Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama visited the storm-battered state, where many are calling Sandy one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the region.

Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie viewed the damage together and thanked emergency workers for their efforts. On Tuesday, Christie, a Republican normally at odds with the Democratic president, praised the Obama administration for what he said has been an "outstanding" response to the destructive storm.

The president has declared "major disasters" in New York and New Jersey, freeing federal funds aimed at offsetting billions of dollars in East Coast property damage.

In many areas, rescue and utility workers are hard at work, doing their best to clean up in the aftermath of the storm.

With the presidential election now less than a week away, Republican presidential challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, was back on the campaign trail in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday.  But he asked supporters do what they can to help the relief efforts.

"People are doing that all over America, gathering their support in any way they can to help the people who have been subjected to this tragedy," said Romney.  "And so, please, if you have an extra dollar or two send them along and keep the people who have been in harm's way, who have been damaged either personally or through their property, keep them in your thoughts and prayers.  We love all of our fellow citizens. We come together at times like this."

The storm's impact has even caught the attention of the Vatican.

On Wednesday, Pope Benedict spoke about the disaster during prayers.

"Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and I express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding," said Benedict.

Sandy has killed at least 45 people in North America.  The storm hit the New Jersey shore late Monday, causing massive flooding, raging fires and power outages that crippled the New York metropolitan area.
As the storm moves west, it has triggered unseasonably powerful blizzards in the mountains.  Forecasters say it is now making its way toward Canada's southern border.

Sandy killed at least 65 people in the Caribbean last week before moving toward the United States.

  • 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.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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