30/10/2012 11:18 GMT | Updated 31/10/2012 12:16 GMT

Superstorm Sandy Clean-Up Operation Begins: Devastation On An 'Unprecedented Scale'

US Authorities are facing a major clean up operation after superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast overnight, killing as least 40 people, reported the BBC.

Cities faced apocalyptic scenes of damage as daylight illuminated the full scale of the destruction.

Fire has ripped through as many as 100 homes in the state and subway tunnels were flooded after record tidal surges across the city. Thousands of people have spent a second night in shelters following the superstorm.

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Fire ripped through 80 homes in Queens

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Around eight million omes and businesses have been left without power after the 'frankenstorm' battered the East Coast

Earlier the storm killed 68 people as it tore through the Caribbean. With the death toll continuing to rise, Barack Obama described the disaster as "heartbreaking" and warned Americans of the continued risk posed by flooding, debris and downed electrical cables. "This storm is not yet over," he said.

In a press conference held at the Red Cross, Obama urged people to support the organization, stating: "Red Cross knows what they're doing... they will make sure we get the resources to those families as swiftly as possible.

"This is something heartbreaking for the entire nation and we feel profoundly for families who will be going through some very tough times in the next few days, and even the next few weeks and months."

SEE ALSO: Superstorm Sandy 'Caused By Iranian Secret Engineering With Help From The Brave Lions Of Syria'

edison trucks submerged

Edison trucks submerged on 14th Street near the ConEd power plant in New York

Obama is due to travel to New Jersey on Wednesday with Governor Christie to offer support to communities recovering from the storm and thank emergency services.

Republican Christie, normally a fierce critic of Obama, has praised the president for being "outstanding" in the wake of the disaster. Obama has suspended his election campaign following the superstorm.

Those believed to have been killed in the storms included a woman from Toronto as the storm hit Canada, and Bruce Litteri in New Jersey killed when a tree crashed into his Jeffereson home.

Two adults were killed and two children survived after a tree fell and crushed their vehicle in Mendham Township, New Jerseyaccording to


A family walks along a flooded street in downtown Annapolis, Maryland

Stories of exceptional bravery have emerged. While most people were advised to evacuate from Sandy's path of destruction, power workers knowingly went into the thick of things.

According to the Daily Beast, more than 500 power workers came up from Alabama to assist in recovery efforts, and at least 150 came from the West Coast to help restore power in New York.

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Much of New York is without power and running on back-up generators in the wake of the storm

And in New York, according to the Atlantic Wire, when the power failed at New York University's Langone Medical Center, "approximately 1,000 hospital staffers (doctors, nurses, residents, and medical students), along with firefighters and police officers, carried 260 patients down 15 flights of stairs, in the dark, with flashlights, to ambulances that transported them to other area hospitals."

Around the country, Americans watched a constant stream of terrifying images of devastation. A large tanker ship washed on to a street in Staten Island, in a frightening display of the power of the storm.

A New York power plant exploded and more than eight million people have been left without power across the East Coast, the BBC has reported.

Rescue teams were forced to rescue 25 people by boat in the Queens district of New York, with most of the city flooded, firefighters told USA Today.

superstorm sandy obama briefing

President Barack Obama receives an update from officials via video teleconference on the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy, in the Situation Room of the White House

Flooding at the Datagram Inc company has been responsible for bringing down the servers at the Huffington Post. The subway is to remain closed after a tidal surge caused the worst damage in its 108-year history.

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A home damaged during a storm at Breezy Point in the New York City borough of Queens


The scene after fire devastated homes in Queens

Hospitals are being forced to use back-up generators while patients had to be evacuated from New York University's Tisch Hospital after a generator failed. It has been estimated a full restoration of power could take more than a week.


A boat floats between two houses in New Jersey: two and half million homes are without power

The devastation in Jersey is "beyond anything I thought I would ever see" New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a press conference.

However he also tweeted: "New Jersey is a tough place. We will dig out from under and we will be back. #Sandy"


A National Guard humvee travels through high water to check the area after the effects of Hurricane Sandy

Sandy's winds were so strong they lifted freight trains from the tracks and onto roads, the New Jersey governor said. The rail service has been completely shut down in the state and many roads have been flooded.

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg also used Twitter to communicate with people in the city.

Parts of West Virginia have been buried in deep snow after the storm, cutting power to at least 264,000 people and closing dozens of roads. At least one death was reported.


An ambulance is stuck in over a foot of snow off of Highway 33 West, near Belington, West Virginia

The storm not only hit higher elevations hard as predicted, communities in lower elevations got much more than the dusting of snow forecasters had first thought from a dangerous system that also brought significant rainfall, high wind gusts and small-stream flooding.

Fema,the Federal Emergency Management Agency is likely to lead the recovery operation.

homes destoryed

The very real human and economic cost of the disaster is clear

On Tuesday, one estimate from IHS Global Insight put total costs at somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion, including $20 billion in infrastructure damages.

Hurricane Irene, which struck the Northeast in August of 2011, cost about $13 billion in economic damages, according to data compiled by Moody’s Analytics.

As high as the numbers seem, economists say the overall impact on the economy will be minor -some costs from the hurricane will be paid by insurers, and others will be offset with rebuilding and recovery efforts.

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Hurricane Sandy ripped across the Caribbean earlier this week, with Haiti among the worst hit

The New York Stock Exchange confirmed it would reopen Wednesday, while the Nasdaq - America's other major platform - is also planning to resume trading.

It is the first time since 1888 that the NYSE remained closed for two days in a row due to weather. But the exchange said that its building and trading floor are fully operational.