U.S. President Barack Obama will visit the storm-battered state of New Jersey Wednesday to view damage with the governor and thank emergency workers struggling to cope with the disaster.
The visit, announced Tuesday by the White House, comes as a vast army of rescue and utility workers confront the wreckage from Hurricane Sandy. The storm hit the New Jersey shore late Monday as a powerful tropical storm, causing massive flooding, raging fires and power outages that crippled the New York metropolitan area.
The storm, which stalked the East Coast for days before coming ashore, has killed at least 43 people.
Earlier Tuesday, the president declared "major disasters" in New York and New Jersey, freeing up federal funds aimed at off-setting billions of dollars in East Coast property damage.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said many of the city's flooded subway tunnels are closed, and warned that the city faces days, if not weeks, of storm recovery challenges.
"The damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive and it will not be repaired overnight. The two biggest challenges facing our city going forward are getting our mass transit system up and running and restoring power," said Bloomberg.
Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was canceled Tuesday for a second day in a row, marking the first time since 1888 that trading has been suspended for two consecutive days because of weather. It will open on schedule Wednesday.
In neighboring New Jersey, a possible berm breach has caused flooding in several towns, forcing at least 800 people to evacuate. Also, a New Jersey nuclear power plant declared an alert after waters rose to a designated high-level mark. Officials said there were no safety concerns at the plant, which was shut off for maintenance.
In a news conference, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said a popular vacation destination in his state has been hit hard.
"The level of devastation at the Jersey shore is unthinkable," said Christie.
VOA's Daniela Schrier took her camera to the East Village district in Lower Manhattan Monday night to document the damage from flood waters rushing city streets.
Christie, a Republican who has been harshly critical of President Barack Obama, praised the president for his response to the storm. In an interview with the NBC television network's "Today" show, he said the president and federal emergency officials had done an "outstanding" job.
Other U.S. cities along the Eastern Seaboard, including Washington, were also left gasping Tuesday, with public transit systems suspended, airports closed and millions of people forced to stay home from work for a second day.
Homes devastated by fire and effects of Hurricane Sandy at the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York, October 30, 2012.
Water reaches the street level of the flooded Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, October 30, 2012, in New York. Superstorm Sandy arrived along the East Coast putting more than 7.5 million homes and businesses in the dark and causing a number of deaths.
One World Trade Center and large portions of lower Manhattan and Hoboken, New Jersey, are seen without power from Jersey City, New Jersey, October 30, 2012, the morning after a powerful storm flooded the subway system, shuttered financial markets and left hundreds of thousands without power.
Residents, including a young child, are rescued by emergency personnel from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey, October 30, 2012.
A woman is lifted into a National Guard vehicle after leaving her flooded home at the Metropolitan Trailer Park in Moonachie, New Jersay, October 30, 2012, after superstorm Sandy.
Elaine Belviso, 72, is rescued from her flooded home by Suffolk County police after being trapped there overnight by superstorm Sandy, October 30, 2012, in Babylon, New York.
A car is crushed under a fallen tree in the Lower East Side in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York, October 30, 2012.
A dead deer is pictured with driftwood and debris left by a combination of storm surge from Hurricane Sandy and high tide in Southampton, New York, October 30, 2012.
Boats lie piled up as people work to secure a fuel dock in the wake of superstorm Sandy, October 30, 2012, in West Babylon, New York.
Sand and debris cover a part of town near the ocean in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 30, 2012, a day after Sandy made landfall.
Large chunks of the boardwalk are piled near an apartment building on the ocean in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 30, 2012.
Kim Johnson looks at the destruction left by Sandy near her seaside apartment in Atlantic City, New Jersey, October 30, 2012.
Snow falls in Elkins, West Virginia, October 30, 2012, a day after Sandy slammed the eastern coast of the Unites States. In some parts of West Virginia, the collision of multiple storm systems could produce up to 3 feet of snow.
A man takes a picture of calm seas and sun-dappled clouds in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, at sunrise on Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, October 30, 2012.
An uprooted tree lies on top of a home after being pushed over by winds from Hurricane Sandy in Westhampton Beach, New York, October 30, 2012.
Consolidated Edision trucks are submerged on 14th Street near the ConEd power plant, October 29, 2012, in New York. Sandy knocked out power to at least 3.1 million people.
Sandy also impacted Canada, where flowers are left at the Toronto site where a woman was killed after being hit by a flying sign that shook loose due to high winds from the remnants of the hurricane, October 30, 2012.
This CCTV photo released by the official Twitter feed of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey shows flood waters from Hurricane Sandy rushing in to the Hoboken PATH station through an elevator shaft on October 29, 2012 in Hoboken, New Jersey.
This photo provided by MTA Bridges and Tunnels shows floodwaters from Sandy entering the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (former Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel), which was closed, October 29, 2012.
Rising water from the Hudson River overtakes a bank drive-through in Edgewater, New Jersey, October 29, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast.
The facade of a four-story building on 14th Street and 8th Avenue collapsed onto the sidewalk as FDNY firefighters respond, October 29, 2012, in New York.
FDNY inflatable boats travel along 14th street towards the East River on a rescue mission in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, in New York.
The skyline of lower Manhattan sits in darkness after a preventive power outage in New York, October 29, 2012.
Ambulances line up outside New York University Tisch Hospital during an evacuation of the hospital after its backup generator failed when the power was knocked out by Sandy, October 29, 2012.
Unseasonably powerful blizzards struck further inland. As much as a meter of snow was predicted in some places, as the storm spanned some 1,500 kilometers.
Weather forecaster Dan Pydinowski (of the AccuWeather service) said that "Sandy" has been a unique storm.
"This is certainly pretty amazing. Just a number of amazing aspects to this storm, obviously how large it was. The low pressure which made for such a strong and expansive wind field and, of course, having the cold air on the western side of this storm add in an even more unique element to it - that we had a couple feet of snow in the southern Appalachians, the central Appalachians," said Pydinowski.
Federal government offices have been closed since Monday.
Watch related video
Q&A with Accuweather's Dan Pydynowsky