Sandy Death Toll Keeps Climbing

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The death toll from Sandy keeps rising as swathes of the US East Coast battle to recover, three days after being smashed by the massive storm. More than 80 people are now known to have died, 37 in New York City alone, and others remain missing.

About 4.6 million people are still without power, and there are fuel shortages across the region.

The National Guard is to deliver a million meals and bottled water to New Yorkers affected by the storm.

The number of dead in the US has exceeded the toll from the Caribbean, where 69 people were killed by Sandy.


The storm could cost the US $50bn (£31bn), according to forecasting firm Eqecat, doubling the previous estimate.

More bodies

In New York, limited subway services returned on Thursday, though four of the seven train tunnels under the East river remained flooded.

Fares on commuter trains, subways and buses have been temporarily waived in a bid to entice commuters off the traffic-choked roads.

Many of the petrol stations in the city and the state of New Jersey remained closed, and fights broke out amid long queues on forecourts.

The city authorities are only permitting vehicles with three passengers or more to cross into Manhattan.

Amtrak plans to restart its East Coast service - the busiest train line in the US - on Friday.

In lower Manhattan, where Sandy brought a record 14ft (4.2m) tidal surge, subway services are still closed and hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday ordered the National Guard to help deliver some 30 tractor trailers of supplies to one million residents.

He has told relief workers to prioritise the elderly and poor, especially those living in high-rise blocks.

The death toll rose overnight as the extent of destruction became clearer in the south-western New York City borough of Staten Island, where at least 15 bodies have been recovered.

The storm, one of the biggest to hit the US in decades, swamped the low-lying district with tidal surges, lifting whole houses off their foundations.

Many residents in that community ignored official evacuation warnings and stayed behind to guard their homes.

Air-mattress protestTwo boys, aged two and four, are missing after they were torn from their mother's arms by floodwaters, as they emerged from their vehicle.

Police searching the area found a body on Thursday morning, the New York Post reports.

An 89-year-old woman died after spending 12 hours in her deluged Staten Island home, reports the New York Daily News.

Her 65-year-old daughter was unable to save her. Helpless neighbours heard their screams for help but could not reach them.

Also on Staten Island, John Filipowicz, 51, and his 20-year-old son John were found dead under debris in the basement of their home.

Breezy Point, in New York City, where fire razed 111 homes, was described by one onlooker as resembling a war zone.

Emergency crews are working to reach the most badly hit areas.

In Hoboken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City, some 20,000 people were still trapped in their homes amid sewage-tainted floodwaters.

The National Guard is helping with evacuations and meal distributions.

One frustrated householder reportedly inflated an air mattress and floated to Hoboken city hall to find out why supplies had not yet arrived.

Jersey City has issued an overnight curfew as well as a driving ban.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama took an aerial tour to inspect the damage to New Jersey's shattered Atlantic coastline.

He put campaigning for next week's US election on hold for three days to manage the disaster response.

The cyclone also caused havoc further inland.

The state of West Virginia has seen up to 5ft of snow in some areas, after Sandy collided with two winter weather fronts.

source:BBC