NEW YORK, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Workers in New York City and nearby towns raced to fix damaged power grids and disrupted transit systems after "superstorm" Sandy left a swath of destruction across 15 U.S. states and cut power to more than 8 million people.
"In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now," said Joseph Lhota, chairman of MTA, which operates New York City's subway system that has been suspended due to historic flooding in some tunnels. Partial subway service was resumed on Thursday.
"All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal."
Much of the lower half of Manhattan is still without power. Thousands of homes and small businesses may have to put up with darkness at least until this weekend.
Nearby areas, including the New York City borough of Staten Island, the New Jersey shore and the city of Hoboken, New Jersey, are struggling to recover from flooding and damages after Hurricane Sandy lashed the U.S. East Coast and made a landfall at New Jersey Monday evening.
At least 95 people have died from Sandy in the United States since Monday, including 39 from New York City, police said. In New Jersey, the death toll had reached 13 as search and rescue teams gained access to devastated ares.
As Sandy faded further inland, bus and bridge services in New York City were resumed late Tuesday, but road congestion was ubiquitous in Manhattan because of a loss of subway service across NYC.
One New Yorker told Xinhua she and her husband had been trapped in their apartment in lower Manhattan without power and water supply in their residence for two consecutive days.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that since Thursday morning, cars entering Manhattan must have three or more passengers because "the streets can only handle so much."
The mayor also said small- and medium-sized businesses which had been suffering from power outage and other damages could apply for emergency loans of up to 10,000 U.S. dollars to help them recover from the disaster.
President Barack Obama stressed the federal government is focused on helping worst-hit states, including New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Thursday expressed his condolences to people severely affected by Hurricane Sandy and pledged assistance to help them recover.
The UN Headquarters in New York, located along the East River, were closed for three days due to the storm and suffered damage from high winds and flooding. It reopened on Thursday.
"Despite disruptions, all essential operations went ahead, including a meeting of the Security Council, and contacts with peacekeeping and other missions around the world were maintained without interruption," said a statement.
With superstorm Sandy dissipating, Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney Thursday were back on the campaign trail, trying to make up for the lost time as they dashed towards the finish line.
Obama, who canceled campaign events for the first half of the week, held three events Thursday. Besides Wisconsin, he also visited Las Vegas, Nevada, and Denver, Colorado, trying to solidify his razor-thin lead in those swing states.
Romney, on the other hand, played defense in Virginia, where latest polls show his momentum has stalled. He held three events in Roanoke, Doswell and Virginia Beach, all in the Republican leaning southern part of the state.
The two candidates were making closing arguments before Americans head to polling stations across the country next Tuesday amid the question, "Where will the voters go to cast their ballots - particularly for parts of New York City and New Jersey where hundreds of thousands of people remained without power?"
Local election boards are assessing their polling sites to decide which ones would be up and running by Tuesday's election while utility companies hope to get the electricity back on time for Election Day.