Trains Roll, but Northeast Struggles Back From Sandy
More than half of the gas stations in the city and neighboring New Jersey remained shut due to power outages and depleted fuel supplies. Even before dawn, long lines formed at gas stations that were expected to open.
(Read More: Why East Coast Gas Shortages May Linger)
Fuel supplies into New York and New Jersey were being choked off in several ways. Two refineries that make up a quarter of the region's refining capacity were still idle due to power outages or flooding. The New York Harbor waterway that imports a fifth of the area's fuel was still closed to traffic, and major import terminals were damaged and powerless.
In addition, the main oil pipeline from the Gulf Coast, which pumps 15 percent of the East Coast's fuel, remained shut.
Matthew Gessler of Brooklyn went to Breezy Point, a New York neighborhood where fire destroyed 111 homes, to inspect damage to his mother's house. Like others, he likened it to a war zone.
He said you could take a picture of the devastation and say it was the Middle East "and no one would doubt you at all."
In Jersey City, across the Hudson River from New York, drivers negotiated intersections without the aid of traffic lights. Shops were shuttered and lines formed outside pharmacies while people piled sodden mattresses and furniture along the side of the roads. The city has issued a curfew on people as well as a driving ban from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
New Yorkers faced an easier commute as the subway system resumed limited operations. But four of the seven subway tunnels under the East River remained flooded and there was no service in Manhattan below 34th Street, where the power is still out.
Subway rides were free as authorities encouraged commuters to use mass transit rather than drive. Bloomberg and state Gov. Andrew Cuomo said private cars must carry at least three people in order to enter Manhattan, after the city was clogged by traffic on Wednesday.
LaGuardia airport in New York reopened Thursday with limited service, a day after Kennedy and Newark airports resumed limited service.
Suburban commuter trains started running for the first time on Wednesday, and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor was to take commuters from city to city on Friday for the first time since the storm.
From West Virginia to the Jersey Shore, the storm's damage was still being felt, and seen.
Five-foot snow drifts piled up in West Virginia, where Sandy merged with two winter weather systems as it went inland. Snow collapsed parts of an apartment complex, a grocery store, a hardwood plant and three homes.
One person killed in the state was a candidate for the state House, John Rose Sr., who was struck by a falling tree limb. His name will remain on the ballot on Election Day.
In New Jersey, signs of the good life that had defined wealthy shorefront enclaves like Bayhead and Mantoloking lay scattered and broken: $3,000 barbecue grills buried beneath the sand and hot tubs cracked and filled with seawater.
Nearly all the homes were seriously damaged, and many had disappeared.
"This," said Harry Typaldos, who owns the Grenville Inn in Mantoloking, "I just can't comprehend."
Most of the state's mass transit systems remained shut down, leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters braving clogged highways and quarter-mile lines at gas stations.
Atlantic City's casinos remained closed.
In Seaside Heights, first home of MTV's "Jersey Shore," the waterfront rides on Casino Pier are gone, swallowed by the sea. A roller coaster was tossed into the ocean, the boardwalk is gone and sand, leaves and debris choked roads lined with houses that rest on their sides.
The house where the "Jersey Shore" cast lived appeared to avoid any damage. But elsewhere on the island — technically a long, narrow peninsula — boats had been tossed like toys, resting atop houses and cars. One lay next to a motel.
About 300 people have been taken off the island since the storm passed, public safety officials said. About 70 remain and will be ordered to leave and not allowed to return to the island until at least the weekend.
"We have to get everyone off the island because there is total devastation," Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas Boyd said Wednesday.
Long Road to Recovery
The storm was likely to rank as one of the costliest storms in U.S. history. One disaster-modeling firm said Sandy may have caused up to $15 billion in insured losses.
(Read More: Sandy's Economic Cost: $50 Billion and Counting)
Economists say there is some positive news for the economy, with increased spending from reconstruction expected to help boost growth next year.
"In terms of a reduction in economic growth, the impact could be anything from two-tenths to upwards of six-tenths and of course it becomes more noticeable with a modest growth rate," Gary Schlossberg, an economist at Wells Capital Management, told CNBC.
"The good news is that with the reconstruction there could be some positive effect further out," he added.
Fuel spilled from a northern New Jersey oil facility shut down by Sandy, according to Motiva, the site's operator. NBC, citing the Coast Guard, said 300,000 gallons (115,000 liters) of diesel had been released and 200 people were working on the cleanup.
(Read More: For Travelers, Sandy's Aggravation Spans Globe)
Brooklynite Matthew Gessler went to Breezy Point, the New York neighborhood where fire destroyed 111 homes, to inspect damage to his mother's house, and was disturbed by what he saw.