Obama Declares Major Disaster Area as Sandy Kills 16

More misery ahead as superstorm heads west

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 30, 2012 4:58 AM CDT | Updated Oct 30, 2012 7:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – Superstorm Sandy is slowly moving inland, leaving a trail of devastation across the Northeast even as President Obama quickly declared major disaster areas in New York and New Jersey. The storm has killed at least 16 people in seven states, adding to the 69 people it killed in the Caribbean. More than 6 million people in 13 states and DC are without power and transportation has been paralyzed across a huge area.

  • New York City was especially devastated by the storm, the AP reports, including a 13-foot surge of seawater, three feet above the previous record. Large swaths of Manhattan have lost power, and amid all the water, an out-of-control fire has destroyed at least 50 houses in Queens.

  • Obama's declaration, which normally waits until a storm damage assessment can be done, opens up federal funding for victims in several counties in both states, USA Today reports. "This was so evident how bad it was that the president said, 'let's just get this done,'" says FEMA's administrator.
  • More storm misery lies ahead for people in the Northeast and as far west as Chicago, CNN reports. Heavy rains will continue to soak the region and a blizzard spawned by the storm will dump up to three feet of snow on parts of West Virginia.
  • As the storm heads west, more than a million people are under orders to evacuate and one disaster forecasting company predicts the economic losses from Sandy will top $20 billion, only half of it insured, Reuters reports.
  • Meanwhile, the hurricane is taking its toll on the digital world: The Huffington Post, Gawker, and Mediaite are all down, the AP notes.

Sea water floods the entrance to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in New York.   (AP Photo/ John Minchillo)
Lower Manhattan goes dark as it is lashed by the storm.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A emergency room physician at Bellevue Hospital Center, walks down First Avenue near East 23rd Street after the facility experienced flooding and switched to emergency backup power .   (AP Photo/Jeffrey Furticella)
FDNY inflatable boats travel along 14th street towards the East River on a rescue mission in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.   (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano)
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