The most devastating storm in decades to hit the United States’ most densely populated region upended man and nature, sending people of faith to refer to the Book of Psalms: "L-rd on High is Mightier than the Noise of Many Waters"
Frankenstorm Sandy rolled back the clock on 21st-century lives, cutting off modern communication and leaving millions without power Tuesday as thousands who fled their water-menaced homes wondered when — if — life would return to normal.
A weakening Sandy, the hurricane turned fearsome superstorm, killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, and still wasn't finished, AFP reported.
It dazed and inundated New York City and left behind a waterlogged Atlantic Coast and a moonscape of disarray and debris — from unmoored shore-town boardwalks to submerged mass-transit systems to delicate presidential politics.
"Nature," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, assessing the damage to his city, "is an awful lot more powerful than we are."
More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan. Nearly 2 million of those were in New York, where large swaths of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up underwater — as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
The shutdown of mass transit crippled a city where more than 8.3 million bus, subway and local rail trips are taken each day, and 800,000 vehicles cross bridges run by the transit agency.
Consolidated Edison said electricity in and around New York could take a week to restore.
"Everybody knew it was coming. Unfortunately, it was everything they said it was," said Sal Novello, a construction executive who rode out the storm with his wife, Lori, in the Long Island town of Lindenhurst, and ended up with 7 feet of water in the basement.
Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with 2 feet of snow by Tuesday afternoon, and drifts 4 feet deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Images from around the storm-affected areas depicted scenes reminiscent of big-budget disaster movies. In Atlantic City, N.J., a gaping hole remained where once a stretch of boardwalk sat by the sea.
In Queens, N.Y., rubble from a fire that destroyed as many as 100 houses in an evacuated beachfront neighborhood jutted into the air at ugly angles against a gray sky. In heavily flooded Hoboken, N.J., across the Hudson River from Manhattan, dozens of yellow cabs sat parked in rows, submerged in murky water to their windshields.
At the ground zero construction site in lower Manhattan, seawater rushed into a gaping hole under harsh floodlights.
One of the most dramatic tales came from lower Manhattan, where two failed backup generators forced New York University's Langone Medical Center to relocate more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from neonatal intensive care. Dozens of ambulances lined up in the rainy night and the tiny patients were gingerly moved out, some attached to battery-powered respirators as gusts of wind blew their blankets.
In a measure of Sandy’s massive size, waves on southern Lake Michigan rose to a record-tying 20.3 feet. High winds spinning off Sandy's edges clobbered the Cleveland area early Tuesday, uprooting trees, closing schools and flooding major roads along Lake Erie.
With the election less than a week away, poll access and voter turnout, both of which hinge upon how people are impacted by the storm, could help shift the outcome in an extremely close race.
President Obama canceled a third straight day of campaigning, scratching events scheduled for Wednesday in swing-state Ohio, in Sandy's path. Republican Mitt Romney resumed his campaign with plans for an Ohio rally billed as a "storm relief event."
Airports were shut across the East Coast and far beyond as tens of thousands of travelers found they couldn't get where they were going. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey reopened at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited service, but LaGuardia Airport will stay closed, officials said.
Residents of the Atlantic coast still face occasional drizzle, and they will not see sunshine until Thursday and Friday, say weather forecasters.