'Like pictures we've seen of the end of World War II'
Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew in a helicopter today with Senator Chuck Schumer and Council Speaker Christine Quinn over Breezy Point, where gale force winds fed fires that destroyed more than 80 homes last night.
"To describe it as looking like pictures we've seen of the end of World War II is not overstating it," he said this evening, speaking from Office of Emergency Management headquarters in Brooklyn.
The number of storm-related deaths has now risen to 18.
Power in hundreds of thousands of homes remains out and will continue to remain out for several days.
"You should not expect the vast bulk of those people that do not have service today to get service much before the weekend," said the mayor.
Nor will the city's mass transit system be anywhere near functional for days.
The city's Parks Department has received more than 7,000 reports of downed or damaged trees. Winds are still high, and danger of falling limbs remains.
City parks are closed until further notice.
Nearly 6,400 New Yorkers are still stuck in emergency shelters.
Sanitation workers will start picking up curbside garbage tomorrow, but not recycling.
Public schools and criminal courts remain closed tomorrow (except for some arraignments and emergencies).
Nevertheless, some limited bus service has begun, and the mayor sought to project a more upbeat tone now that the storm has largely passed.
"We have a plan for recovery and that recovery is already beginning, I'm happy to say," he said. "It's the beginning of a process that we all know will take a while, but this is the end of the downside and hopefully from here it is going up."
As of 4:30 p.m., some 4,000 yellow cabs were cruising city streets, and trading will resume at the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m.
The mayor said most city streets would be safe for Halloween trick-or-treating tomorrow, and the New York City Marathon will run on Sunday as planned, but the Greenwich Village Halloween parade will be postponed.
Bloomberg also said he dissuaded President Barack Obama from visiting, telling him that a visit to New Jersey would suffice.
And the mayor again declined to attribute this storm to man-made climate change, referring to it instead as a "one-off event."