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Sandy leaves New York and New Jersey with £31 billion repair bill

Monster storm Sandy left New Jersey's delicate barrier islands a hazardous wasteland of eroded shoreline, ruined beachfront homes, flooded streets and damaged utilities as a forecasting firm estimated the storm's total US damage could run as high as 50 billion US dollars (£31 billion).



New York City was slowly coming back to life, starting with the partial reopening of vital subways on Thursday, three days after the storm hit.

However, neighbouring New Jersey was stunned by coastal devastation and the news that thousands of people in one city were still stranded by increasingly fetid flood waters.

Forecasting firm Eqecat estimated the total damage at 50 billion US dollars (£31 billion), making it the second-costliest storm in the country's history after Hurricane Katrina. The estimate includes property damage and lost business.

Around the country, the total cost in human lives reached more than 90.

New Jersey's once-pristine Atlantic coastline - famous for Bruce Springsteen and the TV show Jersey Shore - was shattered.

Some residents finally got a look at what was left of their homes: Sandy wrecked houses, businesses and boardwalks.

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 US Geological Survey's Woods Hole Science Centre in Massachusetts.

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 petrol.

In New York, the decision to reopen undamaged parts of the country's largest transit system came as more than 4.6 million homes and businesses were without power - down from a peak of 8.5 million.

New Yorkers streamed into the city as service began to resume on commuter trains and subways.

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 heavily-populated East Coast again starting Friday.

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.

The superstorm's effects, though much weakened, continued on Thursday. Snow drifts as high as five feet 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.



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