Superstorm Sandy, one of the biggest ever to hit the US, pounded the heavily populated East Coast today with fierce winds and heavy rains, killing at least 17 people, plunging millions of homes into darkness and leaving the New York Stock Exchange shut for two straight days for the first time since 1888.
The trail of destruction left by the monster storm prompted President Barack Obama to declare it a ‘major disaster’ in New York and New Jersey.
Sandy slammed the coastline of New Jersey where a large number of Indian families reside, with 80 mph winds, pushing seawater up by an unprecedented 13 feet in New York City, and bringing the presidential campaign to a halt a week before the November 6 polls.
Obama, who called off his campaigning activities yesterday to personally oversee the preparedness to the approaching megastorm, signed ‘major disaster’ declarations for New Jersey and New York. He ordered release of federal aid for those who lost homes or businesses.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney also cancelled some his campaign appearances and turned his offices in some states into collection centres for storm relief supplies.
Stock trading was closed in the US for a second day today — the first time the New York Stock Exchange remained closed for two consecutive days due to weather since 1888, when a blizzard struck the city.
Storm damage was projected at $10 billion to $20 billion, meaning it could prove to be one of the costliest natural disasters in US history.
At least 17 deaths were reported from across seven states —— New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia. According to CBS news three of the victims were children, one just 8 years old.
Some of the victims were killed by falling trees.