New York picks up pieces after Sandy

New York City begins cleanup after Superstorm Sandy destroyed infrastructure & killed 64 people.

A parking lot with cabs in New Jersey is left flooded after Superstorm Sandy hit the area on 30 October 2012. Picture: Twitter

NEW YORK - New York City and the sodden US Northeast began an arduous journey back to normal on Wednesday after mammoth storm Sandy killed at least 64 people in a rampage that swamped coastal cities and cut power to millions.

Financial markets reopened with the New York Stock Exchange running on generator power after the first weather-related two-day closure since an 1888 blizzard. Packed buses took commuters to work with New York's subway system idle after seawater flooded its tunnels.

President Barack Obama, who has halted campaigning with the election six days away, set aside political differences with New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie for a helicopter tour of the devastated coast, where they saw flooded and sand-swept neighbourhoods and burning homes.

"The entire country's been watching. Everyone knows how hard Jersey has been hit," Obama told residents at an evacuation shelter in the town of Brigantine.

"We're not going to tolerate any red tape. We're not going to tolerate any bureaucracy," he said of the relief effort.

The US Navy said it was moving ships closer to areas affected by the disaster in case they might be needed, including the helicopter carrier USS Wasp.

Sandy killed 69 people in the Caribbean as a hurricane before crashing ashore with 80 mile-per-hour (130-kph) winds on Monday as a rare hybrid superstorm after merging with another system. It was the largest storm by area to hit the United States in generations.

Sandy was likely to rank as one of the costliest storms in US history. One disaster-modelling firm said Sandy may have caused up to $15 billion in insured losses.