The Atlantic storm Sandy left “absolute devastation” in New Jersey, tearing apart seaside resort towns, ripping houses from foundations and littering the state’s turnpike with rail cars and debris, said Governor Chris Christie.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at least 10 people had died in the city due to the superstorm. He also said that the city's famed subway system would be down for days because of flooding and other damage.
Three people died in the state because of the storm and search-and-rescue teams are trying to free stranded residents, Christie, told reporters at a news conference in West Trenton today. He described widespread damage in coastal communities, including Atlantic City.
About 2.4 million households in the state were without electrical service, twice the number affected by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Jersey City, across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and Newark, the state’s largest city, with 277,000 residents, suffered total power losses, Christie said.
“Our state woke up today to absolute devastation,” said Christie, 50, a first-term Republican. “There are no words to describe what’s been New Jersey’s experience over the last 24 hours, and what we’ll have to contend with over the coming days, weeks and months.”
A week before the presidential election, Christie, a surrogate for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, said: “I don’t give a damn about Election Day.” Christie praised the response of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
About 5,500 residents were in shelters, and emergency workers were preparing the Rutgers University athletic center in Piscataway to accommodate 2,000 more people, Christie said.
He’s planning to survey the damage by helicopter, he said.
More than 8.1 million U.S. homes and businesses were without power on Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy tore down power lines, flooded electrical networks and sparked an explosion at a Consolidated Edison substation on Manhattan's East River.
About a quarter of New York City's homes and businesses were without power 15 hours after Hurricane Sandy roared ashore accompanied by a nearly 14-foot (4.2-metre) tidal surge that flooded empty subway and highway tunnels.
Con Edison warned parts of New York City would be without power for a more than a week.
Power providers reported outages in every state from North Carolina to the Canadian border and as far inland as Ohio and Indiana. New Jersey was hardest hit state with 62 percent of customers suffering blackouts. Seven states had a fifth or more of all customers without power.
At 11:00 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), total U.S. outages were above 8.1 million according to the the Department of Energy, and were approaching the 8.4 million peak seen during Hurricane Irene last year.
The figures cover homes and businesses, meaning the total number of people affected will be far higher.
"This is the largest storm-related outage in our history," said John Miksad, Con Edison's senior vice president for electric operations.
An explosion at a substation on Manhattan's East River on Monday night contributed to the power cuts, and could complicate efforts to restore electric supplies. Large sections of the island below 39th Street - just south of Times Square - are without power.
Con Edison told customers via Twitter that the hardest hit areas may face more than a week without power. A total of 787,000 homes and businesses were without power in New York City and Westchester as a whole, out of a total of 3 million Con Edison customers.
In New Jersey, 62 percent of homes were without power, according to the DOE. New Jersey utility Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) said in a tweet that it was the "largest storm in PSE&G history." The company asked customers to be patient as "unprecedented" flooding threatened to leave homes without power for days.
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut all had statewide outages affecting 20 percent or more of customers, according to the DOE.
One forecasting company predicted economic losses could ultimately reach $20 billion nationwide, only half insured.
The state-owned Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) was one of the hardest hit utilities, with 85 percent of its 1.1 million customers in New York without power. It said it could take as long as seven to 10 days to return power to every customer.
Connecticut Light and Power's website said 38 percent of its customers were without power.
Power providers emphasized that customers must stay away from downed power lines. One woman in New York City was killed after stepping into an electrified puddle.
© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.