Pumping out the office at Con Edison
Pumping out the office at Con Edison Reuters

More than 6.2 million people were without power by late Wednesday afternoon, and New York's LaGuardia Airport remained closed due to “heavy damage.” It was not known when the airport, which closed Monday at 8:00 p.m. EDT, will reopen, according to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Likewise, New Jersey's Teterboro Airport – which closed Tuesday at 4:00 a.m. EDT, and Connecticut's Tweed-New Haven Airport, which closed Monday at 6:00 a.m. EDT, also sustained heavy damage. The FAA said it was not clear when the airport would reopen.

Authorities said that New York's JFK International Airport was expected to reopen Wednesday at 12:00 noon EDT, however. More than 15,000 flights have been canceled due to flooding on the runways.

A total of more than 8.2 million households found themselves without power across 17 states by early Wednesday, as far west as Michigan, thanks to Hurricane Sandy.

Nearly two million of those were in New York, according to Consolidated Edison, with entire streets submerged. Seven subway tunnels that run under the East River to connect the island of Manhattan with the borough of Brooklyn were flooded as well, along with several vehicular traffic tunnels. Two tunnels – the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the Queens Midtown Tunnel – were still closed.

Of those, at least 285,000 were in the dark in Manhattan alone. Workers pumped flood water out of a Con Edison complex in Manhattan after the storm. People awoke to scenes of destruction wrought by Sandy after it smashed into the eastern United States, cutting power to swathes of the nation's most densely populated region.

A dramatic rescue of 20 tiny infants was carried out at New York University's Tisch Hospital when the building's backup generator failed and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) had to evacuate. Medical staff carefully rushed down staircases, bringing their patients with battery-powered respirators to waiting ambulances. A total of 200 patients were relocated by the hospital.

The rest of the city fared little better, with most of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island in the dark for much of the time. Con Edison warned it could take up to a week to restore power to all its customers. Another 185,000 customers were powerless in Westchester as well. On Long Island, nearly one million customers did not have power. But the Long Island Power Authority was warned by an impatient Governor Andrew Cuomo it was “not okay” to take two weeks to repair power lines downed by the storm.

More than a third of Connecticut Light and Power's 1.2 million customers were also without electricity on Tuesday.

In New Jersey, 1.4 million customers of PSE&G  were without power during the storm, but by the end of the day Tuesday, only 900,000 were still in the dark. Atlantic City Electric had a peak of 152,000 in the dark, but that number improved on Wednesday to 121,000 households without power. Added to that were nearly all of the customers of Jersey Central Power and Light in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, as well as a number of other cities and towns. By late in the day, power had been restored to 13,000 households, with 958,000 to go.

“This is the worst storm damage we've seen in our company's history,” said company spokeswoman Jennifer Young. “It is far worse than what we saw during [Hurricane] Irene and the snowstorm last October. With the damage we are seeing, it is really going to take a while to get all customers back online.”