NEW YORK - 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.
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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