Mighty New York City was largely paralyzed, its pivotal subway system flooded and numerous bridges and tunnels shut down. Wall Street’s financial markets were shuttered for a second day — the longest weather-related closure in 124 years — while authorities warned that it would be days, if not weeks, before the city returned to normal.
“The damage we suffered across the city is clearly extensive, and it will not be repaired overnight,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) said in a morning news conference. He said all New York area airports were still shut down Tuesday and that public transportation in the city “remains closed until further notice.” About 750,000 New Yorkers are without power, the mayor said.
From a raised catwalk in a pier-side Brooklyn warehouse, Dave Shamoun, 58, the owner of a marine industry supplier, surveyed the soggy wreckage standing in about 5 ½ feet of water in his 15,000-square-foot space. A pair of forklifts were inoperable, their electrical innards damaged by saltwater. A box of electrical switches for the Suez Canal had floated halfway across the warehouse.
“This is New York’s Katrina,” Shamoun said, referring to the hurricane that ravaged New Orleans in 2005.
“The level of devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told reporters earlier Tuesday. He said he was about to take a helicopter tour to assess the damage but “there is no place for me to land on the barrier islands.” He said 2.4 million New Jersey households are without power — twice the number that lost electricity during Hurricane Irene — and he estimated that full restoration would take longer than the eight days it took after that storm last year.
“It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” Christie said of the damage to his state. “Terrible.... No question in my mind, the devastation that happened to New Jersey is beyond what happened to anyone else” from Sandy.
President Obama signed federal emergency declarations for 10 states and the District of Columbia, permitting state officials to begin making requests for federal assistance, including manpower and equipment.
The president had canceled campaign plans for Monday and Tuesday so he could remain at the White House and oversee the federal response to the storm. Obama later canceled campaign events scheduled for Wednesday in Ohio, the White House announced.
The federal government announced that its offices in Washington would reopen Wednesday but said employees would have the option to take unscheduled leave or perform unscheduled telework.