October 30, 2012 4:30 PM, EDT
States Face Huge Cleanup Following Storm

Hurricane Sandy’s multiple-state path of destruction left transportation systems scrambling to recover, with officials dealing with debris and flooding damage to airports, highways and local roads, news services reported.

New Jersey — where the hurricane barreled ashore late Monday — appeared to be the hardest hit state, with President Obama declaring it and New York state “major disaster” areas. Many local roads were underwater in both states, news reports said.

About 8 million customers and businesses were without power in affected states from the Carolinas north through New England, Reuters reported, citing the U.S. Department of Energy. The storm killed at least 39 people in the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

Sandy could cost up to $20 billion in property damage and $10 billion to $30 billion more in lost business, making it one of the costliest U.S. natural disasters ever, AP reported, citing forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day Tuesday, as New York City was one of the hardest areas hit, with flooding in lower Manhattan forcing a shutdown of the city’s subway system. After being closed Monday, major bridges into and out of the city begain being reopened on Tuesday, reports said.

The damage was not limited to coastal areas, however. As the storm converged with a cold-weather system, blizzard warnings were in effect in West Virginia, western Maryland, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina, Reuters reported.

On Interstate 79 in Pennsylvania, heavy rain turned to wintry mix on Tuesday, becoming heavy snow around the West Virginia line, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, adding that there were conflicting reports from state and local agencies about conditions on I-68 in West Virginia.

Officials in Pennsylvania and other states set 45-mph speed limits on all roads, including interstates, reports said. North Carolina officials also reported road damage, including State Route 12 near the coast.

While diminished in intensity, the huge storm was reaching into eastern Canada late Tuesday, drawing colder air back down into the United States, weather reports said.