New York creeping back to life as storm death toll reaches 80

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NEW York is showing further signs of creeping back to life after Superstorm Sandy with commuters snarling up reopened roads into the city, as officials confirmed the US death toll had risen to at least 78 with a further two dead in Canada.

Among those were killed were a father and son who drowned in their basement, and an 89-year-old woman who slipped from her daughter’s grip when surging water smashed through windows and filled their home at Staten Island on Monday night.

Others missing, presumed dead, include two brothers aged two and four who were ripped from their mother’s arms by floodwater after they escaped their car which was swamped, also at New York’s Staten Island.

Officials say it is unclear how many remain unaccounted for amid the devastation caused by the storm which tore across seven states after slamming into America’s Atlantic East Coast.

About six million homes and businesses are still without power, mostly in New York and New Jersey. Electricity was out as far west as Wisconsin in the Midwest and as far south as the Carolinas.

Across the region, people stricken by the storm have been helping each other – providing comfort to those left homeless or offering hot showers and electrical outlets for charging mobile phones to those without power.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also ordered them to share cars. Police turned away cars that carried fewer than three people to ease the congestion that paralysed the city earlier in the week.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is waiving fares on Thursday and Friday to encourage people to use mass transit instead of driving.

The three major airports have resumed at least limited service, and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor – the busiest train line in the country – will also take commuters along the heavily populated East Coast again starting today.

After the worst disaster in its 108-year-old history, the subways are rolling again – at least some of them. More than a dozen of the lines will offer some service, but none below Manhattan’s 34th Street.

Central and Lower Manhattan, which includes the city’s financial district, September 11 memorial and other tourist sites, is still largely a landscape of shuttered shops and boarded-up restaurants.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the city are still without power, especially in Lower Manhattan, which remains in the dark roughly south of the Empire State Building.

Concerns have risen over the elderly and poor all but trapped on upper floors of housing complexes in the powerless area, who face pitch-black hallways, lifts and dwindling food. New York’s governor has ordered food deliveries to help them.

While New York City has moved closer to normality, neighbouring New Jersey is still stunned by miles of coastal devastation.

Most of its mass transit systems remain shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters stuck on clogged highways and in long lines at petrol stations. Atlantic City’s casinos remained closed.

Across the Hudson River from New York City, the floodwaters remain in the city of Hoboken.

One man blew up an air mattress and floated to City Hall, demanding to know why supplies had not arrived.