Recovery and Clean Up Starts on the East Coast
(CNN) — Faced with one of the most daunting recoveries imaginable, ravaged cities in the Northeast must now clean up waterlogged buildings, burned homes and crippled infrastructure — while millions of people remain without power.
Although some New York City transit and airports come back to life Wednesday, much of the country’s biggest city remains paralyzed.
Meanwhile, New Jersey neighborhoods are still deluged under feet of water ahead of President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to the state Wednesday.
And states farther west are grappling with Superstorm Sandy’s dramatic encore — a blizzard dumped 3 feet of snow in West Virginia and left hundreds of thousands in the shivering cold.
The arduous road to recovery seems as formidable as Sandy itself.
TRANSPORTATION MESS SLOWLY UNTANGLES
New York bus service will resume a full schedule Wednesday, but the city’s massive subway network will remain offline for several more days as workers try to clean up the inundated underground lifeline.
Two of the New York area’s major airports, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty, were slated to reopen Wednesday with limited service.
But the transportation nightmare in New Jersey is far from over.
The rail operations center of NJ Transit was crippled by 8 feet of water, and an emergency generator was submerged, officials said.
At least 65 locomotive engines and 257 rail cars were damaged by floodwater. It will be weeks before service resumes on the New Jersey coast line.
“There is major damage on each and every one of New Jersey’s rail lines,” Gov. Chris Christie said. “Large sections of track were washed out.”
Philadelphia commuters are more fortunate. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will resume regional rail service Wednesday morning, SEPTA said.
STILL IN THE DARK
Early Wednesday morning, at least 6.3 million electric customers across the eastern United States were still in the dark.
At one point, about 300,000 people in West Virginia shivered without power as remnants of Superstorm Sandy dumped a barrage of snow.
That number dropped to 236,000 Wednesday morning. But residents can’t necessarily count on the power staying on long.
As snow continues falling, so do power lines and tree limbs — meaning residents are still at risk of going cold.
“The storm absolutely outpaces anything we have ever seen since moving here,” said Allison Vencel of Morgantown, West Virginia.
Vencel’s electricity has sputtered out four times. But that’s not foremost on her mind. The family is wondering how they’ll be able drive to her daughter’s wedding in Virginia this weekend.
SANDY’S OTHER HAZARDS
Ironically, the storm that dumped more than 10 feet of water has left many without clean drinking water.
Parts of New York City had no running water for a second day, and cities such as New Brunswick, New Jersey, urged residents to boil drinking water.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a task for those recovering from the storm:
“Clean and disinfect everything that got wet,” he tweeted. “Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.”
Workers in Howard County, Maryland, scrambled to stop a sewage overflow caused by a power outage.
The raw sewage spilled at a rate of 2 million gallons per hour, county emergency official Karen Spicer said. It was unclear how much sewage had flowed into the Little Patuxent River.
As Sandy sputters away, it leaves behind at least 101 deaths from Haiti to Canada.
The storm killed 67 people in the Caribbean before slamming into the U.S. East Coast late Monday.
On Wednesday, the New York Police Department reported a total of 22 deaths in the city from Sandy. Previously, Gov. Cuomo’s office reported 15 deaths in the state.
In addition to the scores of deaths, the superstorm is also wreaking financial havoc.
The total cost of property damage and lost business is estimated at between $10 billion to $20 billion, according to Eqecat, which provides loss estimates to the insurance industry.
Christie said seeing the damage left behind to the state’s treasured beaches was “overwhelming,” and the Jersey Shore might never return to its original glory.
“We will rebuild it. No question in my mind, we’ll rebuild it,” he said. “But for those of us who are my age, it won’t be the same. It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed into the ocean.”
CNN’s Marina Carver, Eden Pontz, Chris Isidore, Daphne Sashin, Dana Ford, Maggie Schneider and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.
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