COMMUNITIES across the eastern United States have started to clean up after surviving the harrowing destruction carved out by Superstorm Sandy.
Striking New York City yesterday afternoon Australian time, Sandy left cars floating through lower Manhattan, buildings collapsing and trees falling and reports of up to 16 people killed.
The powerful storm hit the gambling resort of Atlantic City hard, with parts of New York’s financial district soon under water.
Re-categorised as a non-tropical storm, Sandy accelerated as it made landfallon the New Jersey coast and was heading toward the US capital, Washington DC last night.
The US National Hurricane Center said winds of 80 miles per hour were created by the post-tropical cyclone, with driving rains and life-threatening danger.
Businesses and schools in at least three states were closed, as New York’s subway system flooded and the storied Manhattan skyline went dark.
As many as 13,000 airline flights across the US were cancelled.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg pleaded with residents to stay staff, as authorities evacuated an area around the usually bustling 57th precinct where a skyline crane snapped.
As many as 6.2 million people in states including New York, Delaware, New Jersey and nearby Maryland were expected to be in darkness overnight, with officials warning of continuing danger as recovery efforts got under way.
Ballarat expatriate and former photograper at The Courier Andrew Kelly said he felt like he was living through “the apocalypse” in New York yesterday.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, the city is blacked out and everything is collapsing, with waters rising,” Mr Kelly said.
“33rd Street downtown is completely blacked out and driving up completely dark avenues is the eeriest feeling in New York.”
“My feet are wet, my apartment is without power, the city is totally dark, it’s definitely an experience I won’t forget soon at all.”
Ballarat travel agents were in contact with customers travelling in the United States, with those trying to escape the storm’s path blocked by cancelled flights, buses and trains.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade closed consulates in New York and Washington DC, but with the worst of the storm expected to have passed today, travel advisories were not changed.