Mayor Dawn Zimmer stood in the gathering darkness Wednesday afternoon and begged the outside world to speed more supplies, such as flashlights, batteries, food, generator fuel and drinking water.
“We ask anyone who’s listening to deliver supplies to us,” she said from the steps of City Hall, which was without power.
The mayor spoke over the sound of whirring water pumps and humming diesel generators. The smell of sewage, seeping up from storm drains, hung in the air on some of the city’s streets.
“If people who are listening have generators, we are asking you to bring them,” Zimmer said. “We are still very much in crisis mode.”
The U.S. death toll from Sandy had risen to at least 75 by Thursday, the Associated Press reported, with the largest number of fatalities — 30 — occurring in New York. Many sections of New York City remained dark, but parts of the subway began running again Thursday, and three of seven tunnels under the East River had been cleared of water.
Police enforced mandatory carpooling, with at least three people required in each car heading into Manhattan. Traffic remained heavy. All three major New York-area airports had reopened for business.
Across the Hudson River in New Jersey, state officials reported at least 14 dead, AP said. But the scope of the damage, which ran from beach communities to aging cities, appeared to dwarf that of New York.
President Obama got a firsthand look at the devastation when he joined New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Wednesday for a helicopter tour of the state’s ravaged beach communities.
From his Marine One helicopter, the president looked down on boardwalks smashed to splinters by the storm, houses split open by floodwater and the ruins of a roller coaster that had come unmoored from a shattered pier in Seaside Heights, N.J., and washed into the ocean.
“I want to just let you know that your governor is working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible, everybody can get back to normal,” Obama told residents in the seaside community of Brigantine after the tour. “The entire country has been watching what’s been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit.”
The state’s coastal barrier islands were decimated by high winds and water that knocked homes from their foundations, flooded streets and ruptured natural gas lines, which continued to burn Wednesday in some New Jersey beachfront communities, such as Brick Township.