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8M in dark as Sandy eyes Canada

Damage from the storm throughout the Northeast could be $20 billion,

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. | October 31, 2012

Megastorm Sandy's effects were still being felt in the United States Wednesday as the storm headed toward Canada leaving a path of death and destruction.

A huge fire burned on Mantoloking Island off the New Jersey shore where flames could be seen shooting directly out of the sand, WABC-TV, New York, reported.

New Jersey authorities believe a gas main explosion may be the cause of the fire that spread quickly across the island, destroying several homes.

Firefighters could not reach the blaze due to storm damage on the roads leading to the island.

In New York City, ground transit and airports were coming back to life but much of the country's biggest city remained paralyzed, CNN reported.

Neighborhoods in New Jersey were still deluged with water ahead of a scheduled visit by President Barack Obama.

Sandy, now a surface trough of low pressure, has been blamed for more than 40 deaths in the United States, including 22 in New York City, officials said.

The National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said in its 5 a.m. EDT advisory there was no discernible surface circulation for what remained of Sandy.

At least 8 million customers were without power Wednesday, and more than 18,000 flights had been canceled since Sandy first started moving along the East Coast. Sandy also was responsible for at least 67 deaths in the Caribbean.

President Obama signed federal emergency declarations for 10 states and the District of Columbia and spoke with 20 governors and mayors on a conference call. He is to tour New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie to survey damage and meet with some victims of the storm.

New York City financial markets resumed trading Wednesday even though much of the city was without electricity.

At least 80 homes caught fire and burned in a Queens neighborhood.

New York's subway system suffered the most devastating damage from floodwaters in the system's 108-year history, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joseph Lhota said Tuesday. The New York Harbor saltwater that gushed into subway tunnels may have corroded signal and switching systems, he said.

He said service would not be restored for at least four or five days.

New York buses began running again Tuesday afternoon and Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a ride-sharing program for taxis.

New York, New Jersey and Connecticut reopened many closed roads and bridges.

In New Jersey, much of Atlantic City's famed wooden Boardwalk was destroyed and the resort city for gambling and conventions was all but submerged.

New York police executed several daring air rescues, dropping lifelines to rescue at least six people, including a child, The New York Times reported.

Police said there haven't been any signs of looting or other indications of crimes of opportunity taking place because of the storm, the Times said.

During an evening news conference Tuesday, Bloomberg said more police would be part of overnight shifts in the parts of the city still in darkness.

"This is the calm after the storm," one police officer told the Times.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Tuesday night Newark Liberty and Kennedy International airports would reopen Wednesday with limited service, but New York's LaGuardia Airport, where runways remained flooded, would stay closed.

Stewart International Airport, 60 miles north of the city, would also reopen with limited service, the Port Authority said.

Damage from the storm throughout the Northeast could be as much as $20 billion, catastrophe-risk modeling firm EQECAT said.

Elsewhere, gale warnings and small craft advisories were in effect for parts of the Great Lakes, and small craft advisories were posted for much of the East Coast, the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center said.

Winter storm warnings and advisories were posted for the mountainous regions of southwest Pennsylvania, western Maryland, West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and extreme western North Carolina.

At least 2 feet of snow has fallen in parts of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. NWS said additional accumulations of 2-4 feet were expected in the mountains of West Virginia into far western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania.

Forecasters said high waters would subside along the East Coast Wednesday from North Carolina to Massachusetts, but flooding could still occur along the coast and along the Great Lakes.

Dangerous surf conditions were expected from Florida to New England for the next couple of days.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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