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    Updated Wednesday, Oct. 31, 9:25 a.m.

    Large chunks of the boardwalk are piled near an apartment building on the ocean in Atlantic City, N.J., Tuesday. (AP)

    BELMAR, N.J. (AP) - Debris and damage from superstorm Sandy - not to mention lingering floodwaters - hindered recovery efforts a day after Gov. Chris Christie said the state should start thinking about rebuilding.

    Firefighters were prevented from responding to a series of natural gas fires early Wednesday in Mantoloking, where about 14 homes burned down two days ago, an Ocean County emergency management official said.

    In Hoboken, the National Guard arrived Tuesday night to help residents of the heavily flooded city on the Hudson River. And some barrier islands remained mostly cut off.

    President Barack Obama planned to visit Atlantic City on Wednesday to see the area where the violent storm made landfall two days before.

    Christie said Tuesday that he plans to ask the president to assign the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start working on how to rebuild beaches and find "the best way to rebuild the beach to protect these towns."

    While that sounds like a notion that would be hard to disagree with, it can be contentious.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    New Jersey's shore has been a political battleground over beach replenishment projects. Some oceanfront homeowners object to building up dunes. Sure, they may protect their properties' integrity, but higher dunes can damage pristine ocean views and the property values that come with them.

    And some environmental groups have objected to replenishment plans, too, partly because of fears of contamination in the sand that's being moved around.

    New Jersey is still assessing damage from this week's storm.

    Sandy was being blamed for at least six deaths across the state, plus power outages that at their peak Monday affected 2.7 million residential and commercial customers. The lights were out in Jersey City and most of Newark and in other communities scattered all over the state.

    Besides ravaging beaches, the storm swept homes off their foundations in some coastal communities, wrecked some boardwalks and knocked amusement park rides from piers in Seaside Heights.

    By Tuesday, access was still restricted onto barrier islands such as Long Beach Island, Ocean City and the one that includes Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

    Atlantic City's 12 casinos remained closed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    The New Jersey National Guard came to Hoboken Tuesday night to help residents of the heavily flooded city on the Hudson River.

    Mayor Dawn Zimmer told MSNBC that the waters had become contaminated from sewage and had live electrical wires in them.

    P.J. Molski, a 25-year-old graphic designer who lives in Hoboken, said that his place is dry but that his car, which he left parked on a flooded street, won't start.

    Almost every basement apartment he has seen in the small city is flooded, he told The Associated Press.

    "There are just pumps going all over the city of people trying to get the water out of their basement apartments," he said.

    Surprise coastal surge floods battered Moonachie, Little Ferry and some other towns along the Hackensack River in Bergen County - all areas unaccustomed to flooding.

    In Moonachie, a town of 2,700 about 10 miles northwest of Manhattan, police Sgt. Tom Schmidt said water rose to 5 feet within 45 minutes, making roads impassable and cutting off residents who thought the worst from the superstorm was over.

    Schmidt said rescuers had trouble using boats to carry out rescues because water levels were varying from several feet to only inches. Trucks were also used.

    Mobile home park resident Juan Allen said that water overflowed a 2-foot-wall along a nearby creek during the tidal surge, filling the area with 2 to 3 feet of water within 15 minutes and eventually as much as 5 feet.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tidal Surge Overruns Two NJ Towns with Floodwaters

    "I saw trees not just knocked down but ripped right out of the ground," he said. "I watched a tree crush a guy's house like a wet sponge."

    In neighboring Little Ferry, population 10,000, residents reported water suddenly started gushing out of storm drains late Monday night, and within 90 minutes, 4 feet of water was in the road and entering houses.

    Janice Kama was playing cards with her husband by candlelight Monday night after power went out when her poodle terrier mix started looking out the screen door.

    "I thought she saw an animal," Kama said. "Then my husband looked out the back door and said, 'Oh, my god.' It was like rapids coming down the block and down the sidewalk, like someone turned on a faucet."

    Some public transportation services are starting up again around the state.

    Manhattan-bound ferries were to resume running Wednesday morning, as were New Jersey Transit buses in Camden. PATCO trains to Philadelphia resumed service late Tuesday. But other mass transit was suspended until further notice.

    Newark Liberty International Airport was to open at 7 a.m. Wednesday but carriers expected to provide only limited service.

    State government offices and most schools were closed for Wednesday. Rutgers University called off classes for the rest of the week on its New Brunswick and Newark campuses.

    The storm was horrific as it produced hurricane-force winds and heavy rains over the state.

    David Anthony and his wife, Ann Felice, both 64, were stuck in their house on Barnegat Bay across from Long Beach Island when water began to rise Monday. They went to their upstairs bedroom and tied five bedsheets together thinking they might need to use them as a rope to escape as the winds and surge pounded the home.

    "It was like somebody taking a massive sledgehammer to the wall," Anthony said Tuesday. "I thought we were dead. Even if we did get out the window, the waves were so powerful."

    As destructive and frightening as the storm was, the fear gave way to relief after it passed. "We got lucky," Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian. "It could have been a lot worse but what we got was something I've never seen before in my life."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Flooding on the bay side of Seaside, N.J., on Tuesday, after superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey Monday evening. (AP Photo/New Jersey Governor's Office, Tim Larsen)

    The town that for millions made "Jersey Shore" synonymous with Snooki and fist-pumping was among the hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy - and its famous summer residents sent their prayers to those affected.

    "Sandy destroyed Seaside - our second home," Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi told MTV News in a statement. "It's devastating to see our boardwalk and favorite spots ruined. My prayers go out to everyone affected by the storm."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    Jenni "JWoww" Farley appeared on the "Tonight Show," and host Jay Leno asked about the house she owns with her fiance, Roger, in Toms River.

    "Fixable, I want to say. It's really, it like hurts the heart a lot. It's really kind of devastating," she said. But as long as like my dogs, Roger's safe, my friends are safe, we're just all without power."

    Vinny Guadagnino told MTV that Seaside Heights had become his second home, while Paul "Pauly D" DelVecchio sent thanks to the "heroes" who were working to help. Sammi Giancola called the impact "devastating."

    Guadagnino tweeted that Staten Island, N.Y., where he lives, "looks like war zone" and posted a picture of a downed tree.

    He, Farley and DelVecchio asked their Twitter followers to donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Polizzi also said she would donate but was more true to form: "Ugh trying to change my son's diaper while holding a flash light is not easy," she wrote from East Hanover, using the hashtag "nopower."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Updated Wednesday, Oct. 31, 11:19 a.m.

    A police car patrols in front of the New York Stock Exchange, on Wednesday before it reopened for trading for the first time this week following a two-day shutdown due to superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Two major airports reopened and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange came back to life Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to rescue flood victims and fires still raged two days after Superstorm Sandy.

    For the first time since the storm battered the Northeast, killing at least 59 people and doing billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation's largest city - a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind.

    At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.

    Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports reopened with limited service just after 7 a.m. New York's LaGuardia Airport, which suffered far worse damage and where water covered parts of runways, remained closed.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    It was clear that restoring the region to its ordinarily frenetic pace could take days - and that rebuilding the hardest-hit communities and the transportation networks that link them together could take considerably longer.

    About 6.5 million homes and businesses were still without power, including 4 million in New York and New Jersey. Electricity was out as far west as Wisconsin and as far south as the Carolinas.

    The scale of the challenge could be seen across the Hudson River in New Jersey, where National Guard troops arrived in the heavily flooded city of Hoboken to help evacuate thousands still stuck in their homes and deliver ready-to-eat meals. Live wires dangled in floodwaters that Mayor Dawn Zimmer said were rapidly mixing with sewage.

    Thousands of people were still holed up in their brownstones, condos, and other homes in the mile-square city across the Hudson River from New York.

    And new problems arose when firefighters were unable to reach blazes rekindled by natural gas leaks in the heavily hit shore town of Mantoloking. More than a dozen homes were destroyed.

    President Barack Obama planned to visit Atlantic City, N.J., which was directly in the storm's path Monday night and where part of the historic boardwalk washed away.

    Gov. Chris Christie said he plans to ask the president to assign the Army Corps of Engineers to work on how to rebuild beaches and find "the best way to rebuild the beach to protect these towns."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mapping the Megastorm - Track it Live
    Outages in the state's two largest cities, Newark and Jersey City, left traffic signals dark, resulting in fender-benders at intersections where police were not directing traffic. At one Jersey City supermarket, there were long lines to get bread and use an electrical outlet to charge cellphones.

    Amid the despair, talk of recovery was already beginning.

    "It's heartbreaking after being here 37 years," Barry Prezioso of Point Pleasant, N.J., said as he returned to his house in the beachfront community to survey the damage. "You see your home demolished like this, it's tough. But nobody got hurt and the upstairs is still livable, so we can still live upstairs and clean this out. I'm sure there's people that had worse. I feel kind of lucky."

    As New York began its second day after the megastorm, morning rush-hour traffic was heavy as people started returning to work. There was even a sign of normalcy: commuters waiting at bus stops. School was out for a third day.

    The Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan, and the Holland Tunnel, between New York and New Jersey, remained closed. But bridges into the city were open, and city buses were running, free of charge.

    On the Brooklyn Bridge, closed earlier because of high winds, joggers and bikers made their way across before sunrise. One cyclist carried a flashlight. Car traffic on the bridge was busy.

    Bloomberg said it could be the weekend before the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, is running again. High water prevented inspectors from immediately assessing damage to key equipment.

    The chairman of the state agency that runs the subway, Joseph Lhota, said service might have to resume piecemeal, and experts said the cost of the repairs could be staggering.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Aerial View of Devastated 'Jersey Shore' Town

    Power company Consolidated Edison said it could also be the weekend before power is restored to Manhattan and Brooklyn, perhaps longer for other New York boroughs and the New York suburbs.

    The recovery and rebuilding will take far longer.

    When Christie stopped in Belmar, N.J., during a tour of the devastation, one woman wept, and 42-year-old Walter Patrickis told him, "Governor, I lost everything."

    Christie, who called the shore damage "unthinkable," said a full recovery would take months, at least, and it would probably be a week or more before power is restored to everyone who lost it.

    "Now we've got a big task ahead of us that we have to do together. This is the kind of thing New Jerseyans are built for," he said.

    Amtrak laid out plans to resume runs in the Northeast on Wednesday, with modified service between Newark, N.J., and points south. But flooding continued to prevent service to and from New York's Penn Station. Amtrak said the water in train tunnels under the Hudson and East rivers was unprecedented.

    There was no Northeast Regional service between New York and Boston and no Acela Express service for the entire length of the Northeast Corridor. No date was set for when it might resume.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tidal Surge Overruns Two NJ Towns with Floodwaters

    In Connecticut, some residents of Fairfield returned home in kayaks and canoes to inspect widespread damage left by retreating floodwaters that kept other homeowners at bay.

    "The uncertainty is the worst," said Jessica Levitt, who was told it could be a week before she can enter her house. "Even if we had damage, you just want to be able to do something. We can't even get started."

    The storm caused irreparable damage to homes in East Haven, Milford and other shore towns. Still, many were grateful the storm did not deliver a bigger blow, considering the havoc wrought in New York City and New Jersey.

    "I feel like we are blessed," said Bertha Weismann, whose garage was flooded in Bridgeport. "It could have been worse."

    And in New York, residents of the flooded beachfront neighborhood of Breezy Point in returned home to find fire had taken everything the water had not. A huge blaze destroyed perhaps 100 homes in the close-knit community where many had stayed behind, despite being told to evacuate.

    John Frawley acknowledged the mistake. Frawley, who lived about five houses from the fire's edge, said he spent the night terrified "not knowing if the fire was going to jump the boulevard and come up to my house."

    RELATED ON SKYE: A Slowed, Darkened NYC Begins to Stir to Life

    "I stayed up all night," he said. "The screams. The fire. It was horrifying."

    There were still only hints of the economic impact of the storm.

    Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted it would cause $20 billion in damage and $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business. Another firm, AIR Worldwide, estimated losses up to $15 billion.

    "The biggest problem is not the first few days but the coming months," said Alan Rubin, an expert in natural disaster recovery.

    Some of those who lost homes and businesses to Sandy were promising to return and rebuild, but many sounded chastened by their encounter with nature's fury. They included Tom Shalvey of Warwick, R.I., whose cottage on the beach in South Kingstown was washed away by raging surf, leaving a utility pipe as the only marker of where it once sat.

    "We love the beach. We had many great times here," Shalvey said. "We will be back. But it will not be on the front row."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Updated Wed., Oct. 31, 4:45 p.m. ET

    Damage to the MTA New York City Transit system at the South Ferry Subway station. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York/Flickr)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Two days after a paralyzing flood, officials announced plans Wednesday to open the undamaged parts of the massive subway and suburban rail systems that are so essential to life in New York City.

    The city's transit headaches, though, are far from over.

    With some subway tunnels and stations still filled with water and power still off in downtown Manhattan, big gaps will remain in the nation's largest public transit system even after the subways start rolling again Thursday morning.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there will be no subway service in Manhattan south of 34th Street, an area that includes the city's financial district and many tourist sites.

    Commuters who would normally zoom beneath the East River in tunnels now flooded will have to disembark in Brooklyn or Queens and take shuttle buses across a handful of bridges, adding to the enormous stress already being placed on gridlocked Manhattan streets.

    "We are going to need some patience and some tolerance," Cuomo said.

    But the restarting of parts of the system was sure to breathe life back into the city, and allow millions of people to finally get to their jobs, or to school, for the first time since the system shut down Sunday.

    Limited service resumed Wednesday on two of the city's vital commuter rail systems, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road.

    Both of those rail systems, which extend many miles into the Connecticut and Long Island suburbs, had been knocked out by power failures, toppled trees, and, in the case of the LIRR, flooding in tunnels beneath the East River.

    Grand Central quietly reopened its doors at 2 p.m. with a handful of trains headed to suburban Westchester County.

    Banker Mike Brabant took the chance to flee Manhattan, where he had been stranded on a friend's couch since Sunday, when the trains halted in advance of the storm. Pulling a suitcase, he rushed to catch a 2:25 p.m. train for home in Harrison, N.Y.

    "There's still no power there, so I have to deal with that," the 51-year old said. "I'll be glad to be back in my own bed. It's been a rough week."

    By Thursday morning, 14 of the city's 23 subway lines are expected to be operating, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said at a midday press briefing.

    Of those, though, only one train, a shuttle between the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Grand Central, was running its full route. Officials said riders should expect delays and factor in up to an hour of extra travel time.

    "Our overall goal is to get the system up and running," Lhota said. "Every day, more and more (service) is going to come back."

    Three of the seven flooded subway tunnels beneath the East River had been pumped out, but it wasn't immediately clear how soon any of them could return to service, as equipment that was submerged in the storm still needs to be inspected and repaired.

    Restoration of power to the southern part of Manhattan would pave the way for many train lines to extend farther south, and could possibly allow some river crossings. Some subway lines cross the East River on bridges rather than through the flooded tunnels.

    Metro-North trains were to run on the Harlem line between Westchester County and Grand Central Terminal. The Long Island Rail Road planned to offer service to Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal and said some trains would be able to operate into Manhattan.

    Vehicle tunnels, including the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel, also took on huge amounts of water. The Brooklyn tunnel alone had an estimated 70 million gallons of water in it Wednesday morning, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said. The Port Authority's PATH train system, which connects across the Hudson River to New Jersey, was also knocked out by flooding.

    Cuomo's announcement came as New York struggles to recover from Monday night's storm.

    Bus service has resumed, but the system, which usually serves 2.3 million riders, was plagued Wednesday by overcrowding and traffic delays.

    To ease the expected bottleneck, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that the city's East River bridges would be restricted between 6 a.m. and midnight to vehicles with three or more people. Some traffic lanes would be for buses only. The mayor encouraged people to take a bus rather than drive.

    "I know it is an inconvenience for a lot of people, but the bottom line is the streets can only handle so much," Bloomberg said.

    The Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York's biggest bus hub, also reopened Wednesday. But activity returned slowly, with no Greyhound service and no commuter buses to New Jersey.

    Flights slowly got back in the air at two major airports, though busy LaGuardia Airport remained closed. The New York Stock Exchange rang back to life after two days without trading. But large swaths of the city and its northern suburbs - about 1.6 million customers - remain without power.

    The subways carry 5.2 million riders daily. The LIRR and Metro-North each has 300,000 daily riders.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    YouTube user Whatstrending created this "Ultimate Hurricane Compilation" of Sandy-related footage. It begins with the absurd, showing people who went stir-crazy waiting for the storm -- like the man who jogged while wearing a horse's head and the pair who danced "gangnam style" behind a reporter. Then the mood quickly turns serious as the video shows Sandy pounding coastal New Jersey, flooding New York and swamping Hatteras Island, N.C.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    This time-lapse video shows two days of superstorm Sandy buffeting New York - including the moment Lower Manhattan went dark (1:03 in the video), leaving the Williamsburg Bridge half-lit. The Freedom Tower, still under construction, is the tallest building in the skyline.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    President Barack Obama, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, second from left, and others, speaks about superstorm Sandy during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Headquarters in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 31. (AP)

    BRIGANTINE, N.J. (AP) - President Barack Obama inspected Sandy's devastation from high above Wednesday, viewing flooded neighborhoods, sand-strewn streets and a still-burning fire along the battered New Jersey coastline.

    Offering presidential reassurance, Obama later promised residents at a shelter that the federal government was "here for the long haul."

    With Election Day less than a week away, Obama's visit to view the aftermath of the rare autumn storm was layered with political implications. His tour guide was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and top supporter of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who joined Obama on a Marine One helicopter ride over the region.

    After the aerial tour, Obama traveled to a community center in Brigantine, northeast of Atlantic City, where about 50 people had taken shelter and other residents were visiting for food, a hot shower or to power up their cellphones.

    After both men doles out hugs and handshakes at the shelter, Christie said it's "really important to have the president of the United States" in New Jersey. To the chagrin of some Republicans, Christie has lavished praise on Obama for his efforts in helping states deal with the storm.

    Obama was equally effusive about Christie, telling residents that "your governor is working overtime" to repair the damage from the storm.

    "The entire country has been watching what's been happening. Everybody knows how hard Jersey has been hit," Obama said.

    Even though politics infuse every moment in the final week before Election Day, the White House sought to focus attention on the storm, which has given Obama an opportunity to project presidential leadership in the final days of the tight contest.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney said there were no political motivations behind Obama's decision to join his supporter's rival.

    "This is not a time for politics," Carney said. "The president appreciates the efforts of governors, state and local officials across the various states that were affected by the storm, regardless of political party."

    During the helicopter tour, Obama and Christie saw a carnival and a large pier that had been damaged, along with flattened houses and fragments of wood scattered throughout neighborhoods. Parts of the New Jersey shore's famed boardwalk were missing and, in one area, a fire was still burning and appeared to have taken out about eight homes.

    As Obama and Christie flew over Point Pleasant Beach, sand and water could be seen covering several blocks of the community. But the president got a reminder of next week's election from someone who wrote "ROMNEY" in large letters in the sand at the north end of the beach.

    Wednesday marked Obama's third straight day off the campaign trail. He canceled rallies across four battleground states and retreated to the White House to oversee the government's storm response. Obama stopped by FEMA headquarters in Washington before heading to New Jersey.

    Obama planned to return to the campaign trail Thursday, with stops planned in Green Bay, Wis., Las Vegas and Boulder, Colo. He planned to be on the road campaigning every day through the Nov. 6 election.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Members of the Army National Guard Unit Gulf 250 from Morristown, NJ evacuate a victim from Hurricane Sandy on October 31, 2012 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Getty)

    HOBOKEN, N.J. (AP) - National Guard troops delivered food and water to residents in this heavily flooded city across from Manhattan on Wednesday as officials sent out a plea for more supplies, including boats and generators.

    Superstorm Sandy sent the raging Hudson River waters from one side of the one-square-mile city to the other Monday. Two days later, at least 25 percent of the community was flooded and 90 percent was without power, leaving many residents increasingly anxious and municipal leaders struggling to get assistance to all those who need it.

    Tempers flared Wednesday at a staging area outside City Hall, where a man screamed at emergency officials about why food and water had not been delivered to residents just a few blocks away. The man, who would not give his name, said he blew up an air mattress to float over to the staging area.

    City officials defended their response.

    "The dimension and scope of this situation is enormous," Public Safety Director Jon Tooke said. "You have emergency operations at all levels - from local to federal - spread too thin across the city and the state, but we're working on it."

    Tooke said the estimated 20,000 people still stranded in their homes were being encouraged to shelter in place, and that high-water vehicles would get supplies to them. He said people with medical and other special needs were being taken out by trucks. Two churches were serving as shelters.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Aerial View of Devastated 'Jersey Shore' Town

    Public housing, senior projects and private residences were all affected. Mayor Dawn Zimmer said senior citizens were the most distressed and eager to get more supplies.

    National Guard troops in 12 trucks arrived Tuesday night, officials said. On Wednesday the city appealed for additional aid, including boats and generators. Zimmer asked local businesses to get water and nonperishable goods to City Hall.

    "We are doing what we can but we really need more help," said her spokesman, Juan Melli.

    Dozens of volunteers answered the call to help go door-to-door to see if seniors and others needed water or other supplies.

    Frank Bongiorno, an 80-year-old resident of a senior high-rise, said he walked down 15 flights to get out of his building, then waded through some low water to get to City Hall.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Airports and Stock Exchange Reopen; N.J. Devastated

    Wearing a sweatshirt too thin for rapidly dropping temperatures, Bongiorno said he needed to get out. "They finally gave us a sandwich today but it was this big," he complained, pinching his fingers about an inch apart.

    Tooke said fuel had been delivered to the high-rise to get its generator back up and running.

    This city of 50,000 with many narrow streets still retains its working-class grit, but also has come to be known as a great place for young professional families, including workers on Wall Street just across the river in Manhattan.

    Before the storm hit, evacuation orders went out for people living in Hoboken's many basement apartments and first-floor units.

    Many were surprised by the extent of the flooding.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    Samuel Scott Cornish, 34, who lives with his wife, Katie, and newborn son, Jack, in a luxury apartment complex on the border of Hoboken and Jersey City, said he was told to move his Subaru to a different area inside his building's garage for safety before the storm, only to later discover it floating in water. The garage is now filled with water-soaked cars, including a BMW floating upside down.

    Cornish said the storm itself was initially a bonding period with neighbors he once only nodded hello to.

    But now that residents have been able to get outside their homes and see a bit of dry sidewalk for the first time in days, they are realizing the full scope of the damage and are getting antsy.

    Cornish was deciding Wednesday whether to go to his parents' house in Summit, which had no power.

    "I'm debating, no power and a colder house in Summit, or stick it out here with some auxiliary power that will only last until the building runs out of diesel," he said.

    In Cornish's building, the generators powered only the hallways. He said doors were open and neighbors were sharing; some had refrigerators plugged in hallway outlets or worked on laptops.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tidal Surge Overruns Two NJ Towns with Floodwaters

    At one condo building where power was out, residents decided to celebrate Halloween on Wednesday afternoon, sending children door-to-door in their costumes.

    Kathy Zucker, the condo president, said she had three children under the age of 6.

    "They are going a little stir crazy," she said, "but they are hanging in there."

    P.J. Molski, a 25-year-old graphic designer, said his place is dry. But he left his car on a street that flooded, and now it won't start.

    Almost every basement apartment he has seen in the small city is flooded, he said.

    "There are just pumps going all over the city of people trying to get the water out of their basement apartments," he said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Lisa Kravchenko, of Staten Island, stands amongst flood debris in her princess Halloween costume, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in the Staten Island borough of New York. (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Seventh-grader Samantha Bertolino was especially proud of her Halloween costume this year. She was going to be a vampire, and she really had it together this time: The black dress, the spider-web earrings, fake blood, white face paint, and some cool, sparkly clip-on nails.

    But the costume will stay in the closet for a while: Samantha's town of Ridgefield, Conn., has postponed Halloween due to the ravages of Superstorm Sandy. The town is planning to reschedule, pending the success of cleanup efforts.

    But it won't be the same, Samantha says: "It's kind of like trying to reschedule Christmas. You can't really do that."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    From the wrath of nature to the wrath of young children: From Maryland to Kentucky to Maine, Halloween festivities were being canceled or postponed. And a debate emerged: Should we be celebrating, anyway, in the face of the devastation? Or is celebrating just the right thing to do for antsy kids who've been cooped up at home (and out of school) for days?

    Perhaps the most high-profile postponement was that of New York's huge parade in Greenwich Village, with its outlandish floats and millions of revelers, mainly adults. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city's police were simply too taxed with Sandy's aftermath. (Trick-or-treating, the mayor said, could go ahead as long as caution and good judgment were used.)

    It was the first time the parade had been canceled in its 39-year history, said Jeanne Fleming, who has directed the event for 32 of those years, including this one. (Also being canceled was a much-loved parade in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.)

    "We went on right after 9/11," said Fleming. "It was a wonderful affirmation of New York's spirit." Still, she added, she understood the factors that went into Bloomberg's decision.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Region Devastated by Sandy Struggles to Resume Daily Life

    "Even after 9/11, people had electricity, the subways were running," she said. "And I do wonder if it would have been the right thing for the people of Greenwich Village." Much of lower Manhattan below 39th street is still plunged in darkness.

    Fleming was spending Wednesday in discussions about a possible new date next week; options mentioned were Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, she said, which presented another complication: "I can imagine people staying up all night watching election returns, and then having a parade," she noted.

    Speaking of the election, President Barack Obama and wife Michelle were also changing plans, breaking their three-year tradition of passing out sweets to area students and military children in the White House driveway.

    The White House said the hundreds of treat bags, each containing a box of White House M&Ms, a pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie, jelly beans and some dried fruit, would be delivered to the White House Military Office and D.C., Maryland and Virginia school districts.

    For some communities, the rescheduling compounded past disappointments. In Ridgefield, Halloween was postponed last year, too, due to an early snowstorm that brought down trees and caused widespread power outages. As was trick-or-treating in Londonderry, N.H., which also rescheduled this year.

    "They were very sad," said Cheryl Hass, a Londonderry mom, of her daughters, ages 8 and 10. "Once you explain why, they understand, but they're still disappointed."

    Since dates for a rescheduled Halloween varied by city, county or town, some parents were mollifying their kids by promising dual (or triple) celebrations.

    One was Kelsey Banfield of Fairfield, Conn., who lost power and relocated to her parents' house in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Tuesday. She said her 4-year-old daughter would celebrate there and then on Nov. 7, back home.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Debris, Water Stand in Way of N.J. Recovery

    Also planning some double-dipping was Amber Korell of Greensboro, Md., where trick-or-treating was set for Friday. Korell said she'd told her 4-year-old daughter, Layla, that they'd also hit the town of nearby Denton, which was celebrating on Saturday; that way, she'd get to wear her costume twice.

    In many places, like the upper part of Manhattan, where power was never lost, trick-or-treating was largely going ahead, even though school wasn't: Bloomberg announced Wednesday that schools would be closed the rest of the week, much to the delight of children and the frustration of parents.

    In New Jersey, though, which sustained much damage, Gov. Chris Christie postponed Halloween until next Monday - though not all towns were necessarily keeping to that schedule. One building, a condo in the flooded city of Hoboken, was getting in a little early celebrating - at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    Kathy Zucker, the condo president, said she had three children under the age of 6.

    "They are going a little stir crazy," she said.

    Of course, adults who were going stir crazy and looking for kid-inappropriate entertainment had additional options - especially in New York. For example, there was the off-Broadway show "Silence," a profane and hilarious send-up of the movie "Silence of the Lambs." The show was offering a "Halloween package" involving dinner, the show and a haunted house tour.

    And if you like drag costumes, there was the Halloween Drag Costume party at the Christie's exhibition gallery, celebrating an upcoming sale of Andy Warhol works. The private (sorry) party described the dress code as "Factory Chic, Halloween Drag."

    Back to more family friendly activities: Some towns offered alternatives to trick-or-treating. The well-known aquarium in Mystic, Conn., offered families without power at home the chance to trick-or-treat among the beluga whales, penguins and sharks.

    And the city of Brunswick, Ohio, south of Cleveland, was holding an free indoor "Frankenstorm Party" at the local recreation center, to complement trick-or-treating outside.

    "It's an alternative if they don't want to go out in the weather," said Diane Grabowski, an assistant to the parks and recreation director.

    While some parents felt that celebrating just wasn't the right thing to do when people had suffered as a result of the storm, others felt the postponement was unnecessary.

    "It's Halloween and the weather's not that bad," said Mandy Haynoski of Wellsville, in western New York. "So why not have trick-or-treating as normal?" Though the town came through the storm with relatively few problems, officials decided to postpone Halloween until Sunday afternoon.

    "What's trick-or-treating without being out at night with the Halloween lights and the pumpkins lit up?" Haynoski asked. "It's just more fun on Halloween." Not to mention, she added, the Buffalo Bills-Houston Texans football game Sunday, which now coincides with Halloween.

    "Nobody's going to answer their doors when the football game's going on," she said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Updated Thursday, Nov. 1, 11:38 a.m.

    The musician, Bruce Springsteen (seen in an Oct. 18, 2012, photo) will perform at the benefit concert. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    NEW YORK (AP) - NBC will hold a benefit concert Friday for victims of Hurricane Sandy featuring some artists native to the areas hardest hit.

    Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi of New Jersey and Billy Joel of Long Island are scheduled to appear at the concert, hosted by "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer.

    Other performers include Christina Aguilera, Sting and Jimmy Fallon.

    The telecast will benefit the American Red Cross and will be shown on NBC and its cable stations including Bravo, CNBC, USA, MSNBC and E! Other networks are invited to join in.

    "Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together" will air at 8 p.m. EDT and will be taped-delayed in the West.

    The telethon will be broadcast from NBC facilities in Rockefeller Center in New York City.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Updated Thursday, Nov. 1, 2:08 p.m. ET

    A commuter waits as the first A train approaches the platform at Penn Station as MTA resumed limited service on Thursday in New York. (AP Photo/CX Matiash)

    NEW YORK (AP) - New York City moved closer to resuming its frenetic pace by getting back its vital subways Thursday, three days after a superstorm, but neighboring New Jersey was stunned by coastal devastation and the news of thousands of people in one city still stranded by increasingly fetid flood waters.

    The decision to reopen undamaged parts of the United States' largest transit system came as the death toll reached more than 80 in the U.S. and left more than 4.6 million homes and businesses without power. Hurricane Sandy earlier left another at least 69 people dead as it swept through the Caribbean.

    The estimate of the storm's economic damage doubled Thursday, with forecasting firm Eqecat saying it could run as high as $50 billion.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    In New York, people streamed into the city as service began to resume on commuter train and subway. The three major airports resumed at least limited service, and the New York Stock Exchange was open again. Amtrak's Northeast Corridor - the busiest train line in the country - was to take commuters along the heavily populated East Coast again starting Friday.

    But hundreds of people lined up for buses, traffic jammed for miles (kilometers) and long gas lined formed. And the latest deaths reported included two young boys who disappeared Monday night when waves of water crashed into an SUV.

    Hundreds of thousands in New York City alone were still without power, especially in downtown Manhattan, which remained in the dark roughly south of the Empire State Building after floodwaters had knocked out electricity. Con Edison said it was on track to restore power by Saturday.

    Concerns rose over the elderly and poor all but trapped on upper floors of housing complexes in the powerless area, who faced pitch-black hallways, elevators and dwindling food. New York's governor ordered deliveries of food and drinking water to help them. New York dipped to about 40 degrees (4.44 degrees Celsius) Wednesday night.

    "Our problem is making sure they know that food is available," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday, as officials expressed concern about people having to haul water from fire hydrants up darkened flights of stairs.

    "Manhattan is getting back to normal - at least, the parts most people notice," Alex Koppelman wrote for The New Yorker website Thursday in a report on the poor still isolated downtown.

    Rima Finzi-Strauss was fleeing her apartment and taking a bus to Washington.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Aerial View of Devastated 'Jersey Shore' Town

    "We had three guys sitting out in the lobby last night with candlelight, and very threatening folks were passing by in the pitch black," she said. "And everyone's leaving. That makes it worse."

    In New Jersey, the once-pristine Atlantic coastline famous for Bruce Springsteen and the TV show "Jersey Shore" was shattered. President Barack Obama joined Gov. Chris Christie in a helicopter tour of the devastation Wednesday and told evacuees, "We are here for you. We are not going to tolerate red tape. We are not going to tolerate bureaucracy."

    And warnings rose again about global warming and the prospect of more such severe weather to come.

    "The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we've seen in the past 50 years," said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts. The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.

    Across the Hudson River from New York City, the floodwaters were slowly receding in the city of Hoboken, where an estimated 20,000 people had remained in their homes. The National Guard was helping with evacuations, but residents were warned not to walk around in water that was tainted with sewage and chemicals from the heavily industrial region.

    New Jersey residents across the state were urged to conserve water. At least 1.7 million customers remained without electricity there, and fights broke out as people waited in long lines for gas.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tidal Surge Overruns Two NJ Towns with Floodwaters

    The superstorm's effects, though much weakened, continued Thursday. Snow drifts as high as 5 feet (1.5 meters) piled up in West Virginia, where the former hurricane merged with two winter weather systems as it went inland.

    Across the region, people stricken by the storm pulled together, in some cases providing comfort to those left homeless, in others offering hot showers and electrical outlets for charging mobile phones to those without power.

    Bloomberg also ordered residents to share cars. Television footage Thursday showed heavy traffic crawling into Manhattan as police turned away cars that carried fewer than three people - a rule meant to ease the congestion that paralyzed the city earlier in the week.

    After suffering the worst disaster in its 108-year-old history, the subways were rolling again - at least some of them. More than a dozen of the lines would offer some service, but none below Manhattan's 34th Street.

    Commuters lined up at Penn Station to board uptown subway trains at 6 a.m. Technology worker Ronnie Abraham was on one of them.

    "It's the lifeline of the city," Abraham said.

    But most of New Jersey's mass transit systems remained shut, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters stuck on clogged highways and in long lines at gas stations. Atlantic City's casinos remained closed.

    Signs of the good life that had defined wealthy New Jersey shorefront enclaves lay scattered and broken: $3,000 barbecue grills buried beneath the sand and hot tubs cracked and filled with seawater. Nearly all the homes were seriously damaged, and many had disappeared.

    "This," said Harry Typaldos, who owns the Grenville Inn in Mantoloking, "I just can't comprehend."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Passengers check in for flights at Pittsburgh International Airport in Imperial, PA, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    New York's three major airports will be operating under reduced schedules on Thursday as flight services start returning to normal following Superstorm Sandy.

    The busy Northeast travel corridor ground to a halt when Sandy slammed into the East Coast on Monday, flooding train tunnels, cutting power and shutting down regional airports.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    John F. Kennedy International Airport and Liberty Airport in Newark, N.J., which reopened Wednesday, will continue to offer limited service on Thursday.

    LaGuardia Airport, which had remained closed amid storm-related damage, said it is due to reopen Thursday morning with reduced service. LaGuardia has just two runways that jut out into bays and are only a few feet above sea level. They were inundated by Sandy's surge.

    American Airlines and Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines said they plan to restart LaGuardia flights on Thursday morning, with Southwest joining them in the afternoon. Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant said the airline intends to start landing planes around 7 a.m. and hopes to operate half of its normal LaGuardia schedule, while American is aiming for 70 percent.

    International travel was normalizing, helping stranded passengers around the world to get on their way.

    In the U.K., Virgin Airlines said it had flown an extra flight on Wednesday to clear a backlog of passengers, and on Thursday was operating its normal four-flights-a-day service to New York. It also planned to fly normal schedules to Newark, Boston and Washington, D.C.

    British Airways said it was flying all but one of its 11 daily services to New York as well as normal services to Newark and its other U.S. East Coast destinations.

    The airline said it was operating an extra flight to Newark and had added more ticket machines at terminals in JFK and Liberty Airport to help speed customers through the rebooking and check-in process.

    Airports in Washington and Philadelphia reopened on Tuesday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Updated Thursday, Nov. 1, 12:23 p.m. ET

    Sand fills the streets in the wake of superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, along the central Jersey Shore, N.J. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - In its tear of destruction, the megastorm Sandy left parts of New Jersey's beloved shore in tatters, sweeping away beaches, homes, boardwalks and amusement parks.

    The devastation left the state a blank canvas to redevelop its prized vacation towns. But environmentalists and shoreline planners urged the state to think about how - and if - to redevelop the shoreline as it faces an even greater threat of extreme weather.

    "The next 50 to 100 years are going to be very different than what we've seen in the past 50 years," said S. Jeffress Williams, a scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Science Center in Massachusetts.

    The sea level is rising fast, and destructive storms are occurring more frequently, said Williams, who expects things to get even worse.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    He and other shoreline advocates say the state should consider how to protect coastal areas from furious storms when they rebuild it, such as relocating homes and businesses farther from the shore, building more seawalls and keeping sand dunes high.

    How to rebuild after the disaster is becoming an issue even as New Jersey assesses its damage.

    The state's death toll from Sandy climbed to at least 14 while 1.7 million customers remained without electricity Thursday and earth-moving equipment made its way for the first time to hard-hit barrier island communities.

    In some coastal towns, residents were getting their first look at the damage, but they were being barred from checking out their property on barrier islands.

    Most passenger trains were still suspended and lines were long at gas pumps across the state. But there were some steps toward normalcy: State government offices and many schools reopened Thursday, and most New Jersey Transit bus routes resumed service.

    The state's main focus was at the storied Jersey Shore, where houses were thrown from their foundations and parks and beaches were in ruins.

    In his evening briefing Wednesday, Gov. Chris Christie reiterated that he wants to rebuild.

    "I don't believe in a state like ours, where the Jersey Shore is such a part of life, that you just pick up and walk away," he said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Aerial View of Devastated 'Jersey Shore' Town

    But the governor said homeowners in hard-hit areas should decide for themselves whether they want to rebuild or sell their property to the state for conservation. New Jersey has a program to buy flood-prone homes, but it's mostly been used for inland flood plains, not the shore.

    The government, the Republican governor said, should not decide where rebuilding is and isn't allowed. On Thursday, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said he expects building standards to be updated, as they have been after other major storms.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, disagreed with Christie, saying that rebuilding after Sandy should include new ways to prevent damage from future hurricanes and storms.

    Shoreline advocates say there are three ways to protect the shore from extreme weather: build more jetties and seawalls, keep beaches replenished and relocate homes and businesses.

    The physical solutions can help protect homes and roads but also cut off access to the beaches or water. New Jersey is known for having a lot of protective barriers.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it's also moved more than 65 million cubic yards of sand for replenishment projects in New Jersey. The state government has done additional projects without federal assistance.

    Environmentalists say moving sand can cause harm to the areas it's moved from and might not be a good match for its new location. The supply of usable sand also is limited, they say.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Airports and Stock Exchange Reopen; N.J. Devastated

    "It's like a bad drug habit," said Chad Nelsen, the environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation, a national organization dedicated to preserving beaches and oceans. "Once you start, you can't stop."

    Still, it seems to work. Some residents on Long Beach Island on Wednesday credited high dunes and wide beaches built as part of replenishment efforts there for keeping destruction from being even worse.

    The northern barrier island that suffered the worst damage from Sandy is the longest developed stretch of New Jersey's 127-mile coastline without the help of federal replenishment projects.

    The federal government pays for much of the beach protection programs. Including state and local contributions, shore protection programs with federal involvement from Manasquan to Cape May have cost taxpayers $475 million since 1988. The state has a $25 million-per-year beach protection fund, much of which goes toward the federal projects, but some goes to other measures.

    Peter Kasabach, executive director of the planning advocacy group New Jersey Future, says subsidies that encourage rebuilding as things were, including federal flood insurance, are problematic.

    "We've built in places that we shouldn't have built and now those places are becoming even more hazardous and more expensive to stay in," he said. "As we grow and develop, we should make sure we don't continue to invest in those places."

    He suggested bans on building in some sensitive beach areas, or requirements that homes be built farther from the ocean.

    The Surfrider Foundation's Nelsen said he hopes that New Jersey communities at least consider rebuilding in different places, which he said has never been done on a large scale in a U.S. oceanfront.

    "We're about to spend some ungodly sum of money to restore the coast," he said. "Let's make sure we spent it wisely."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    This undated image shows a Dutch engineering firm's proposal to build a barrier in the Verrazano Narrows, shielding the Upper New York Bay. (AP Photo/Arcadis)

    NEW YORK (AP) - The vast destruction wreaked by the storm surge in New York could have been prevented with a sea barrier of the type that protects major cities in Europe, some scientists and engineers say. The multibillion-dollar price tag of such a project has been a hindrance, but may appear more palatable after the damage from Superstorm Sandy has been tallied.

    "The time has come. The city is finally going to have to face this," said oceanography professor Malcolm J. Bowman at Long Island's Stony Brook University. He has warned for years of the potential for a catastrophic storm surge in New York and has advocated for a barrier.

    Invented by Bowman and his colleague Douglas Hill, two European engineering firms have drawn up proposals for walling most of New York off from the sea, at a price just above $6 billion.

    Before the storm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration had said it was working to analyze natural risks and the effectiveness of various coast-protection techniques, including storm-surge barriers. But officials had noted that barriers were only one of many ideas, and they have often emphasized more modest, immediate steps the city has taken, such as installing floodgates at sewage plants and raising the ground level while redeveloping a low-lying area in Queens.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    "It's a series of small interventions that cumulatively, over time, will take us to a more natural system" to deal with climate change and rising sea levels, Carter H. Strickland, the city's environmental commissioner, told The New York Times this summer.

    Engineers know this approach as "resilience" - essentially, toughening the city piece by piece to make it soak up a surge without major damage. But the European engineering firms whose barriers protect the Netherlands and the Russian metropolis of St. Petersburg see this as unrealistic, given the vast amount of expensive infrastructure that underpins New York.

    "How does New York as a city retreat into resilient mode? It's just difficult to see how that would happen," said Graeme Forsyth, an engineer for CH2M Hill in Glasgow, Scotland.

    Sandy sent a record 14-foot storm surge into New York Harbor, flooding subway tunnels and airports. It forced the closure of the stock market for two days, the first time that's happened for weather-related reasons since 1888. There's no estimate yet for the cost of the devastation in New York City, but forecasting firm IHS Global Insight put the cost of the damage along the coast at $20 billion, plus $10 billion to $30 billion in lost business.

    Forsyth has worked on St. Petersburg's barrier, which consists of 16 miles of levees and gates shielding the city, built on what was once a swamp, from the Baltic Sea and the river Neva. The centerpiece of his firm's early-stage proposal for New York is a levee-like barrier that would stretch five miles from the Rockaway peninsula in Queens on Long Island to the Sandy Hook promontory in New Jersey. The barrier would stop a surge of 30 feet, twice the height from Sandy. Gaps would allow ships, river water and tides through, but movable gates could close off all of New York Bay from the Atlantic when necessary. The barrier would protect most of the city, with the exception of Rockaway itself. It would also shield parts of New Jersey.

    To be sure, some scientists have reservations about the storm-surge barrier concept.

    Some are concerned about how the structures could affect tidal flow and other environmental features of New York Harbor - and about whether barriers would be socially fair.

    "Who gets included to be behind the gate, and who doesn't get included? ... How do you make that decision in a fair way?" Robert Swanson, an oceanographer who is Bowman's colleague at Stony Brook, said in an August interview.

    Other experts question whether barriers would even work in the long term. Klaus H. Jacob, a Columbia University climate-risk researcher who has advised New York City officials, has noted that given the unknowns of climate change, any system designed now could prove inadequate in the future.

    But advocates believe New York needs to take bigger steps given its concentration of people and financial infrastructure.

    "With the kind of protection that has been considered so far, you cannot protect a multimillion-inhabitant city that runs part of the world economy," said Piet Dircke, who has worked on the extensive system of sea barriers in the Netherlands with the Dutch engineering firm Arcadis.

    His firm's proposal is to build a barrier in the Verrazano Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, shielding Upper New York Bay. It would be supplemented by two smaller barriers, one between Staten Island and New Jersey and the other on the East River. Such a barrier would have protected Manhattan and much of Brooklyn and Staten Island from Sandy, but left southern Brooklyn and Kennedy Airport exposed.

    Robert Trentlyon, a New York community activist who has been advocating for storm-surge barriers, sees the one-two punch of Hurricane Irene in 2011 - which came within a foot of flooding subway stations in southern Manhattan - and Sandy as a sign that the time has come.

    "Having had two storm surges within one year, and their both being major ones, I just find it very difficult to think the city could not go ahead and act," the retired local newspaper publisher said by phone Sunday from his Manhattan apartment, which was left without power. His Chelsea neighborhood, though not his building, was among those that flooded.

    In August, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler urged city officials to take a comprehensive look at storm-surge barriers, bulkheads and other flood-fighting devices.

    After the storm, reactions from the government have been mixed, as the region battles to recover from the storm rather than looking at how to prevent the next disaster.

    "We cannot build a big barrier reef off the shore to stop the waves from coming in," Bloomberg said Monday. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened the door to new ideas Tuesday, saying that the government has a responsibility to think about new designs and techniques to protect the city in the face of what look like increasingly frequent megastorms.

    One doesn't have to go to Europe or New Orleans to find examples of massive sea barriers: The city of Providence, R.I., has been protected by a 3,000-foot gated barrier since 1966. Construction was prompted by two devastating hurricanes in 1938 and 1954. The barrier has prevented flooding of the low-lying parts of the city several times since then, including during Sandy.

    "This is not far-out science or engineering," Bowman said. "This is easy to do."

    "Easy" doesn't mean it would be something that could be put in place quickly. Even after politicians line up behind the project, funding, permitting and environmental studies are likely to take years.

    "It could take 20 years before people even start pouring concrete," Bowman said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    A firefighter leaves the destroyed home in Pasadena, Md., on Tuesday where Donald Cannata, Sr., was killed overnight when a tree fell during superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

    Death blew in on the superstorm's wild winds and sea water torrents, claiming 90-year-olds and children with capriciously toppling trees, taking tall-ship adventurers in mountainous Atlantic waves and average folks just trying to deal with a freakish snowstorm. It felled both heroes rushing into harm's way and, ironically, people simply following advice to play it safe at home.

    At least 72 died as the shape-shifting hurricane and winter storm ravaged the eastern U.S., and searchers continued looking for victims Wednesday.

    In New York City, a college student went out to take pictures in the borough of Queens and was electrocuted by a downed power line, while across town on Staten Island, an off-duty policeman drowned after moving his family to safety.

    Lauren Abraham, who went by the nickname LolaDiva on YouTube, was a makeup artist who worked out of a studio in her parents' Queens home. The recent beauty school graduate was studying at City University of New York's Lehman College, according to her Facebook page. "In her time of reflection she learned to find the beauty in even the darkest situations," her online bio reads.

    As the superstorm ravaged New York and floodwater surged into his Staten Island house Monday evening, off-duty NYPD officer Artur Kasprzak, 28, shepherded six adult relatives and a baby to the attic.

    Then, according to police, Kasprzak, a six-year veteran of the force, told one of the women he was going to check the basement. When he didn't return, she called 911. Police came quickly with a SCUBA unit, but couldn't access the home because power lines had fallen into the water.

    "He went to the basement. And the water just started washing in," his sister Marta told the Daily News. "He was pushed into a window. ... The water just kept coming in."

    Bunting draped a firehouse in Easton, Conn., honoring another first responder who rushed to help. Lt. Russell Neary was killed when an enormous tree crashed down on his fire truck as he and others tried to clear storm debris.

    "We're a small volunteer department, and so everybody knew everybody," said Casey Meskers, the department vice president. Neary was the president. An insurance executive, he had volunteered for 13 years, and also helped with his children's sports teams.

    "We've been on the soccer fields with each other with our kids," Meskers said Wednesday. "There's been a lot of tears shed, I'll tell you."

    So many times, trees and heavy limbs that fell to the storm's powerful gusts left mourners along its path.

    Two people died when a tree fell on their vehicle in Morris County, N.J., and many others perished inside homes, where they thought they'd be safe - from North Salem, N.Y., where two boys, 11 and 13, were killed when a tree fell on their home, to Pasadena, Md.

    Donald Cannata Sr., 73, was at home in Pasadena, a leafy suburb between Baltimore and Annapolis, when the storm knocked a large tree into his house. The retired civil engineer lived alone with his cat and dog and had stepped into the kitchen just when the tree fell.

    He loved photography and opera and was considerate, hardworking and selfless, said his son, Donald Jr., an opinion shared by neighbors. Cannata's son said his father's death "shook me so to the core," partly because they had talked about taking down the tree.

    "We talked about it so many times. I said, 'Pop, the tree's getting pretty old,'" Cannata said.

    An elderly man trimming a tree in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County was killed when a limb broke and fell on him, authorities said.

    A limb fall also killed John Rose, Sr., as he and his wife checked fences on his snow-covered 100-acre farm near Philippi, W.Va., on Tuesday. The storm had dumped about seven inches of snow in the region, where Rose was a Republican candidate for the House of Delegates. He had traveled to Charleston regularly to lobby lawmakers on farming and other issues, and he hoped to continue making the trip as a member.

    Rose, 60, had previously run a power-washing business and worked as a coal miner, his son George Rose said.

    "The whole county knew him," he said.

    The storm's blizzard threat was still far off when, churning in the relatively warm Atlantic off Cape Hatteras, N.C., on Monday, Hurricane Sandy engulfed the replica tall ship HMS Bounty. The ship, which was featured in the films "Mutiny on the Bounty" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," took on water and eventually went down.

    Coast Guard rescuers saved most of the 17 crew members, but a search continues for the ship's captain, Robin Wallbridge.

    Swept overboard with him was Claudene Christian, 42, who said she was a direct descendant of the man who led the infamous 1789 mutiny on the real HMS Bounty. In the 1962 "Bounty" film, Marlon Brando starred as lead mutineer Fletcher Christian.

    Searchers found Christian - a novice sailor who was wearing an orange survival suit - unresponsive in the water late Monday, about eight nautical miles from where the Bounty sank. She was flown by helicopter to a hospital on the mainland, where she was pronounced dead.

    A marketing specialist, she had lived in Alaska, Oklahoma and California. She was a member of the University of Southern California cheering squad, the Song Girls, from 1989 to 1991, said coach Lori Nelson. "Claudene will always be remembered for her energetic and bubbly personality on and off the field," the team posted on its Facebook page.

    Endless accidents that would be described as freak twists of fate spun off from the superstorm.

    Eugene "Rusty" Brooks, 42, of Woodstock, N.H., died Tuesday morning when a hillside construction site in the state's White Mountains collapsed beneath him. Brooks, owner of Pemmi Contracting, had been preparing a cellar on a home site on Loon Mountain in the ski resort town of Lincoln, said Police Chief Ted Smith. The cellar hole had filled up with rain from Sandy, and Brooks had just thrown a hose in to drain it off when the ground gave way.

    "The retaining wall just liquefied with him standing there," Smith said. "He washed down with all the boulders, mud and water into the street."

    When police and rescue workers arrived, they found a bystander performing CPR on Brooks, who could not be revived.

    "It just basically was a freak, bizarre accident," the chief said. "It could have given way prior to him being there or afterwards."

    The massive storm's unrelenting stress was blamed as a contributor to death by some loved ones, and in other cases the paralyzing wind and water compounded medical problems.

    An Atlantic City, N.J., woman had a heart attack while she was being evacuated on Monday, officials reported.

    In Pennsylvania's Lehigh County, an 86-year-old woman was pronounced dead of hypothermia after being found unresponsive in her yard following exposure to the storm, and a 48-year-old woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning in her home, the coroner's office reported.

    A 90-year-old woman also died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator in the Philadelphia area, one of two claimed by the storm at age 90. The other was a Mansfield, Conn., woman who neighbors said left her home after a small tree snapped and was killed by a larger one.

    In New York City, Herminia St. John, a 75-year-old grandmother of 14 who suffered from congestive heart failure and diabetes, died after her oxygen machine lost power and a backup failed. Her grandson, Claudio St. John, rushed into the street and tried unsuccessfully to flag down an ambulance. Finally, he went around the corner to Bellevue Hospital, where his mother worked as a food supervisor for 30 years. But by the time someone came it was too late.

    "I hugged her and she hugged and kissed me," Elsa St. John, 54, told the Daily News. "She asked me to turn her to the window and she was gone."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    The sun rises behind the Empire State Building in New York on Thursday. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Inspiring or inappropriate? New Yorkers and runners from around the world debated whether a marathon should be run with disaster for a backdrop.

    The New York City Marathon is on Sunday, with many logistical questions to be answered.

    "To us the marathon really epitomizes the spirit of New York City, the vitality, the tenacity, the determination of New Yorkers," New York Road Runners President Mary Wittenberg said on Wednesday, shortly before Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed the race was on. "Now our every effort is to once again tell the world that New York City, as the mayor would say, is open for business, and we welcome the support of the world at this trying time."

    Race organizers were still trying to assess how widespread damage from Superstorm Sandy might affect plans, including getting runners into the city and transporting them to the start line on Staten Island. Easing their worries a bit was news that 14 of the city's 23 subway lines were expected to be operating by Thursday morning - though none below 34th Street, an area that includes the terminal for the ferries that go to the island.

    "I think some people said you shouldn't run the marathon," Bloomberg said at a news briefing. "There's an awful lot of small businesses that depend on these people. We have to have an economy. There's lots of people that have come here. It's a great event for New York, and I think for those who were lost, you've got to believe they would want us to have an economy and have a city go on for those that they left behind."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Twitter Captures the Megastorm
    Runners like Josh Maio felt torn about whether the race should go on.

    "It pulls resources and focus away from people in need," said Maio, who dropped out due to an injury but is coaching about 75 runners.

    He agrees the race is a boost to local businesses hurt by the storm - it brings an estimated $340 million to the city. But he is uncomfortable with devoting so much to an "extracurricular" event.

    Top American Meb Keflezighi, the 2009 men's champion, regards the marathon as "something positive ... because it will be motivation to say, 'Look what happened, and we'll put on the race, and we'll give them a good show.'"

    Wittenberg said organizers planned to use more private contractors than past years to reduce the strain on city services. Many people have offered to work as volunteers and could fill in gaps, and many runners and fans plan to raise money to help victims of the storm.

    She compared this year's race to the 2001 marathon, held seven weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as a way to inspire residents and show the world the city's resilience.

    Jonathan Cane ran in that race, working for the police department at the time as a fitness instructor, and it was "an amazing experience." But like Maio, he had mixed feelings about holding this year's marathon.

    "I think if they do pull it off, the city will get behind it," said Cane, who is coaching more than 200 runners signed up for the race. "It's already a unique event, and this will make it more so."

    Wittenberg expects the field will be smaller than the 47,500 who ran last year because some entrants can't make it to New York, but said so far organizers had received no more cancellations than normal. New York's three major airports were expected to be open on Thursday with limited flights, leaving the nearly 30,000 out-of-town runners with hope that they can fly in but no guarantees.

    Race organizers were rescheduling the elite runners' flights to get them into New York on schedule, with many rerouted to Boston.

    Meanwhile, traffic choked city streets as residents tried to return to work and limited commuter rail service resumed. Utilities say it could be days before power is fully restored in the city and on Long Island.

    The course mostly avoids areas hit hardest by flooding. Getting everyone to the start on Staten Island could be the biggest challenge if two usual methods - the ferry and Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel - are still closed. Organizers are working on contingency plans.

    Runners always had to rise in the wee hours of the morning to make it to the start in time, and now they may need to get going even earlier.

    Once under way, runners will cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn. The route then winds through the borough and over the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. The Queensboro Bridge will bring the runners into Manhattan's East Side. After a brief swing through the Bronx, they finish in Central Park, which was closed on Wednesday. Some 250 mature trees inside the park were felled by the storm.

    The 43rd marathon is set to include three Olympic medalists and the women's world champion.

    Kenya's Wilson Kipsang won bronze in the Olympic men's marathon. His challengers include 2011 Chicago Marathon champ Moses Mosop of Kenya and 2010 New York winner Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia.

    Ethiopia's Tiki Gelana won gold and Russia's Tatyana Arkhipova was third in the women's race in London. Edna Kiplagat of Kenya won the world title a year earlier.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    Upended boats are piled together at a marina along the central New Jersey shore on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    The total economic damage from Superstorm Sandy could run as high as $50 billion, according to new estimates from the forecasting firm Eqecat. The new numbers are more than double the firm's previous estimate.

    Eqecat said Thursday that its new estimate for economic losses is between $30 billion and $50 billion. The cost to insurance companies could run from $10 billion to $20 billion.

    Widespread electric outages will likely push the costs higher than in a typical Category 1 storm, Eqecat said. The lack of subway service in New York City and blocked roadways also led the firm to raise its damage estimate.

    Before the storm hit, Eqecat estimated that the total economic losses could range as high as $20 billion and that insured losses could reach $10 billion.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Rare Superstorm Slams East Coast


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    NASA's GOES-13 satellite captured images of Hurricane Sandy from its development in the Caribbean Sea on Oct. 21 through Oct. 31, when the superstorm weakened to a low pressure area.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space


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