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Sandy heads to Canada, 6.2M without power

Huge fire on Mantoloking Island off New Jersey shore

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

Megastorm Sandy headed toward Canada Wednesday after being blamed for more than 40 deaths and causing widespread damage in the U.S. mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

At least 6.2 million customers were without power Wednesday -- down from an estimated 8 million late Tuesday -- 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.

In New York City, the state Metropolitan Transportation Authority was to restart limited suburban commuter-rail service at 2 p.m. EDT Wednesday and resume limited subway service Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

Significant sections of the largest U.S. mass-transit system remained disabled.

Commuter-rail service was available on the Metro-North Commuter Railroad to the northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut and the Long Island Rail Road, between Manhattan and the length of Long Island. Limited subway service was to be restored between Manhattan and Brooklyn, Cuomo said at a news briefing.

Newark Liberty International and Kennedy International airports resumed operations, but many airlines still operated on a limited basis, said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the New York-area airports. LaGuardia Airport remained closed after suffering damage.

Stewart International Airport, 55 miles north of the city, also was open with limited service, the Port Authority said.

Philadelphia International Airport officials said operations were resuming Wednesday.

Amtrak said it would provide modified Northeast Regional service from Newark to points south.

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, the report said.

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

Neighborhoods in New Jersey were still deluged with water as President Barack Obama surveyed damage by helicopter and met with victims of the storm with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Obama held a briefing early Wednesday with Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate and then both men left the White House at 12:14 p.m. EDT, en route to New Jersey.

NBC News reported Christie said he would ask Obama to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to look into rebuilding beaches to protect towns but he said "it won't be the same because some of the iconic things are washed into the ocean."

Much of the famed Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., was destroyed and the resort city for gambling and conventions was all but submerged.

The U.S. Navy Wednesday sent three helicopter carrier ships -- the USS Wasp, USS Carter Hall and USS Mesa Verde -- to the New Jersey and New York coasts, NBC reported. The ships are to function as landing platforms for military and civilian agency helicopters if needed, officials said.

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 11 a.m. EDT advisory winds, rain and snowfall were diminishing, and gale warnings were in effect for portions of the Great Lakes. Winds were expected to diminish Wednesday afternoon but coastal flooding along portions of the Great Lakes was possible, forecasters said.

Rather than identifying a location for the center of the storm, forecasters said multiple centers of circulation associated with the storm were across the lower Great Lakes.

Flood watches and warnings were posted across New England and flood warnings were in effect for portions of the northern mid-Atlantic region.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories were in effect along the central Appalachians, and the mountains of West Virginia into western Maryland and southwest Pennsylvania were likely to get another 2 to 4 inches of snow. West Virginia has already had 3 feet of snow and at least 2 feet of snow has fallen in parts of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital said Wednesday it has resumed performing surgical procedures and its emergency departments and dialysis centers are fully operational.

The hospital said it is still receiving patients from other area hospitals.

Obama signed federal emergency declarations for 10 states and the District of Columbia and spoke with 20 governors and mayors on a conference call.

New York 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 fully 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.

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.

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

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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