A second surge of the storm is expected this morning.
President Barack Obama issued the declaration after a 13-foot tidal surge sent seawater cascading into large parts of New York City’s subway system and caused widespread damage.
The move by the White House makes federal funding available to people in the area which bore the brunt of the sea surge from the storm.
As the storm moved slowly inland, millions along the US East Coast awoke without power or transport.
Across the city, a power sub-station exploded, a hospital was evacuated and fire destroyed 50 homes.
New York’s financial heart in Lower Manhattan remained closed for a second day and seawater cascaded into the still-gaping construction pit at the World Trade Centre.
In northern New Jersey, a levee broke and flooded the town of Moonachie.
In New Jersey, Exelon Corp. declared an “alert” at its New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant due to a record storm surge, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said, warning that a further water rise could force the country’s oldest working plant to use emergency water supplies to cool spent uranium fuel rods.
The alert — the second lowest of four NRC action levels — came after water levels at the plant rose by more than 6.5 feet, potentially affecting the pumps that circulate water through the plant, an NRC spokesman said late on Monday.
The storm killed at least 16 people in seven states, cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses from the Carolinas to Ohio, caused scares at two nuclear power plants, and put the presidential campaign on hold a week before Election Day.
The storm has grounded well over 10,000 flights across the Northeast and the globe, and it could be days before some passengers can get where they’re going
Shomari Scott, director of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, said that severe weather in major travel hubs including New York, Washington and Boston had led to major cancellations.
“Given that a significant number of our visitors originate from these areas, we can definitely expect to see a decline in air arrivals over the next two or three days from these and others areas due to the cancelled airlift,” he said. “However, as many of the airlines are waiving the change fees for persons wishing to continue with their plans when services return to normal, we are hopeful that the majority of visitors will be able to rebook.”
“[The Department of Tourism] regrets the inconvenience caused to passengers looking forward to leaving the fall weather behind in the US to enjoy some of our warm Caymanian sunshine, but under the circumstances, safety has to be the first and foremost concern,” he added.
According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, more than 13,500 flights had been canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm. By early Tuesday morning, more than 500 flights scheduled for Wednesday also were canceled.