1 Nov 2012

Obama pledges help to rebuild after storm

9:27 pm on 1 November 2012

US President Barack Obama has toured the state of New Jersey to see the devastation from the giant storm Sandy, and pledged to make sure people had all the help they needed to rebuild.

The storm claimed the lives of at least 64 people as it swept though the US states, crippling transportation and knocking out power for millions with a massive storm surge and rain that caused huge flooding.

Almost half the deaths were in New York State and 22 fatalities were confirmed in the city itself.

Mr Obama said he was ready to use the military if necessary to move relief supplies and restore power in New York and New Jersey.

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

With New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, Mr Obama toured the devastated coast by helicopter and met rescue workers in Atlantic City.

At a joint news conference afterwards, Mr Obama said one of the main concerns in the rebuilding effort was is to restore electricity for millions in the Eastern United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the storm may be the most expensive in US history.

It will take days or weeks to recover from the massive power and mass transit outages, Reuters reports. Nearly 6 million customers are without electricity in the region.

Flooding along the New Jersey Shore swallowed whole neighbourhoods. At Breezy Point, in the New York borough of Queens, 111 homes were destroyed as fire tore through the neighbourhood, fanned by the storm's near hurricane force wind.

Services begin to reopen

Businesses, public transport and other services were slowly reopening after two days of chaos caused by the deadly super-storm Sandy.

Some federal offices and schools had reopened on Wednesday. In New York, Wall Street was trading again, but many homes still had no power and the subway remained shut after seawater flooded its tunnels.

Large sections of New York City remained submerged following the record 4 metre storm surge.

John F. Kennedy and Newark airports reopened with limited service after thousands of flights were cancelled, leaving travellers stuck for days. LaGuardia Airport was flooded and remained closed.

More than half of all service stations in the New York City area and New Jersey were shut due to power outages and depleted fuel supplies.

The storm caused more havoc as it moved north toward Canada. Flood warnings were in effect in the Great Lakes region and heavy snow has been falling in the Appalachian mountains.

Remants of Sandy churned over Pennsylvania and winter storm warnings were in effect from southwestern Pennsylvania to eastern Tennessee.