SUPERSTORM Sandy left a trail of devastation and at least 101 dead as it moved from the Caribbean to America's East Coast —but amidst the misery of record power outage and epic flooding, the Fiji representative to the United Nations has assured that all Fijians are safe.
New York-based Peter Thomson said the transportation and power systems were crippled and all public institutions were closed. Millions were affected.
He said Manhattan was shut off from the rest of the world with nearly all bridges and tunnels to the outlying boroughs and to New Jersey shut down.
"At this very moment, New York does not look very pleasant. The island is cut off because most of the workers live in areas surrounding Manhattan, the subway systems are all closed because of seawater surges that also damaged the power system," he said.
"As far as we know, all Fijians are safe."
Sandy arrived in the East Coast after merging with a winter system from the West — and both were fed by cold air from Canada, creating what was dubbed a "Frankenstorm". Sandy's impact was felt across an area more than 1000 miles wide.
New York was especially hard hit, with Wall Street shut for two days. There were reports it reopened last night.
The media reported that New Yorkers awoke to scenes of destruction, from blazing fires in Queens to streets still wet from detritus left by a 13-foot surge of seawater, three feet above previous records. A huge fire destroyed between 80 to 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighbourhood known as Breezy Point in Queens. Mr Thomson said streets were empty but he expected everything to return to full steam today. He was at his office because he lives in Manhattan.
"I take my hat off to the State and the government, the way they handled this disaster, the people were warned early and the emergency team was ready to work, so I expect the restoration of services won't take long," he said.
In the meantime, Mr Thomson said the storm surges that crippled New York through disruption to travel and power, was an issue that demanded the attention of authorities.
"This shows problems associated with rising sea levels," he said.