President Obama declares Superstorm Sandy a 'major disaster'

President Obama declares Superstorm Sandy a 'major disaster'PA

Barack Obama has declared a 'major disaster' in New York and Long Island, due to the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy.

The Telegraph reports that at last 16 people were killed and over seven million were left without power as the storm lashed the east coast of America overnight.

President Obama has now freed up federal aid to help people whose homes have been destroyed or damaged.

According to Sky News, the storm brought winds of more than 85mph and a record-breaking 13ft surge of seawater in Manhattan. There are fears that the seawater could damage the underground electrical and communications lines that are vital to New York's business district.

President Obama declares Superstorm Sandy a 'major disaster'PA

At least 50 homes were destroyed by fire in the borough of Queens and seven New York subway tunnels and six bus garages were flooded - bringing the city's public transport system to a halt.

New York University hospital was forced to move patients after it lost power and its back-up generator broke down. Patients included 20 babies from neonatal intensive care.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the worst of the storm has now passed and officials expected the tidal surge to recede by Wednesday.

President Obama declares Superstorm Sandy a 'major disaster'PA

Further along the east coast, a levee broke in northern New Jersey earlier this morning, flooding nearby towns with up to five feet of water.

An alert was issued at the New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant due to a storm surge. If flood levels continue to rise, operators could be forced to use emergency water supplies to cool uranium fuel rods.

Atlantic City, in New Jersey, is still severely flooded and up to 500 people have been stranded on the town's barrier island since Sunday. The city's famous boardwalk was ripped up by the storm.

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