No power. No food. And still the death toll carries on rising

Nikhil Kumar reports from New York as President Obama flies in to survey storm-ravaged East Coast

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The Independent US

Communities across the storm-battered United States' East Coast struggled to resume some semblance of normalcy yesterday, as President Obama arrived in New Jersey to survey the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The fallout continued last night with swathes of lower Manhattan still stranded in the dark, and tens of thousands marooned across the Hudson River in Hoboken, New Jersey. The US National Guard was forced to move in to rescue and deliver meals to trapped residents after the city of some 50,000 people was overrun by floodwater as a result of the storm. At least 80 people have been killed in the US since the storm struck in the country's most densely populated region.

"For all we do to recover, it's fair to say we can't replace the lives of people lost in the storm," New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said as the toll continued to climb throughout the day yesterday.

In New York, the continuing lack of electricity forced the evacuation of hundreds of patients from the city's flagship Bellevue Hospital, which has been surviving on generators since Monday. Some 500 patients of the 700 still remaining in Sandy's wake had been moved out by yesterday afternoon, as conditions within what is the country's oldest public hospital began to deteriorate. The lobby was reported to be dark, with other lights said to be working only intermittently. Speaking to ABC News, one nurse said: "It's Katrina-esque in there."

Meanwhile, more than half of all service stations in and around New York City and New Jersey were shut yesterday as the combination of power cuts and dwindling fuel supplies took their toll. Across the region, more than six million homes and businesses were still without power yesterday morning.

With most of the transit system still paralysed by flooding, Mr Bloomberg announced measures to ease the pressure on Manhattan's roads by limiting the flow of traffic into the island. The restrictions – similar to ones imposed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks – will apply to nearly all crossings into Manhattan, the Mayor said.

In New Jersey, President Obama arrived to survey some of the worst-affected areas yesterday afternoon. Putting aside partisan difference, he toured the devastated region around Atlantic City with the state's Republican Governor, Chris Christie.

Back in New York, on Wall Street, stock markets finally reopened after boarding up for the longest stretch since 9/11. Although parts of lower Manhattan around Wall Street remained hard to travel to, with limited transport links, trading on the New York Stock Exchange resumed with Mr Bloomberg sounding the opening bell on Wednesday morning.

In the wider area, air links were being restored, though only slowly. People streamed into the city as service began to resume on commuter train and subway and the three major airports resumed at least limited service.

But even as some took the first step on the road to recovery, large parts of the region remain devastated. Around Queens, a clean-up was still underway at the Breezy Point site of the 100 homes destroyed by wind-fuelled fires.

"It looks like the pictures of London or even Dresden after the Second World War," New York's Senator Charles Schumer said, referring to the inferno.