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Sandy's U.S. Death Toll At Least 45; Airports, Stock Market Reopen

October 31, 2012

The U.S. death toll from massive storm Sandy has risen to at least 45, and some 8 million households and businesses remain without power.

At least 18 deaths have been reported in New York City, one of the cities hardest hit by the storm that initially struck late on October 29.

New York’s subway remains out of operation, while many airports, rail lines, roads, and ports in storm-affected regions remain closed as crews work to clear away floodwaters, felled trees, and downed power lines.

New York City's two biggest airports, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty, reopened with limited flights on October 31. The U.S. federal government and New York Stock Exchange were also resuming work after a two-day shutdown.

Overall, according to experts, more than 18,000 flights were canceled in the U.S. northeast and around the world because of Sandy, which has been termed a "superstorm."

President Barack Obama, who suspended his campaign for reelection in the November 6 presidential vote, was expected to visit storm survivors on October 31 in New Jersey.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said it would probably be seven to 10 days before power was restored across New Jersey. Christie described the damage to homes and businesses on New Jersey’s coast as unimaginable.

Christie has been a frequent critic of Obama and is a Republican Party supporter of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. During a visit to storm-ravaged communities on the Jersey Shore on October 30, Christie had praise for Obama's response to the disaster.

"I was on the phone again with the president again right before I left, and you know, he is determined," Christie said. "He knows New Jersey is taking the biggest hit of any of the states here and he is determined to work with us to make sure we rebuild the things that we need to rebuild, and I am grateful for his partnership."

Earlier, Obama declared "a major disaster" in New York state and New Jersey. The measure makes billions of dollars of federal funds available for rescue and cleanup efforts.

Speaking to reporters, Obama said he has pressured federal emergency responders to do everything necessary to help suffering communities.

"My instruction to the federal agency has been 'Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something. I want you to cut through red tape, I want you to cut through bureaucracy,'" Obama said. "There is no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they are needed."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it could up to three days before power is restored across New York City, and up to five days before New York’s subway -- America’s biggest public-transit system – is operational again.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," Bloomberg said. "Our first responders have been doing a heroic job of protecting our city and saving lives and they are still fighting fires and conducting life-saving search and rescue missions and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude."

Before hitting the U.S., Sandy was blamed for killing nearly 70 people in the Caribbean, raising the storm’s death toll to above 110.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/storm-sandy-death-toll-rises-stock-market-open/24756169.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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