The storm cut off barrier islands, smashed homes, wrecked boardwalks and hurled amusement park rides into the sea. Atlantic City, on a barrier island, remained under mandatory evacuation.
More than 4.6 million homes and businesses, including about 650,000 in New York and its northern suburbs, were still without power. Consolidated Edison, the power company serving New York, said electricity should be restored by Saturday to customers in Manhattan and to homes and offices served by underground power lines in Brooklyn.
In darkened neighborhoods, people walked around with miner's lamps on their foreheads and bicycle lights clipped to shoulder bags and, in at least one case, to a dog's collar. A Manhattan handyman opened a fire hydrant so people could collect water to flush toilets.
Some public officials expressed exasperation at the relief effort.
James Molinaro, president of the borough of Staten Island, suggested that people not donate money to the American Red Cross because the Red Cross "is nowhere to be found."
"We have hundreds of people in shelters throughout Staten Island," he said. "Many of them, when the shelters close, have nowhere to go because their homes are destroyed. These are not homeless people. They're homeless now."
Josh Lockwood, the Red Cross' regional chief executive, said 10 trucks began arriving to Staten Island on Thursday morning and a kitchen was set up to distribute meals. Lockwood defended the agency, saying relief workers were stretched thin.
"We're talking about a disaster where we've had shelters set up from Virginia to Indiana to the state Maine, so there's just this tremendous response," he said. "So I would say no one organization is going to be able to address the needs of all these folks by themselves."
In Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Mary Wilson, 75, was buying water from a convenience store that was open but had no power. She said she had been without running water or electricity for three days, and lived on the 19th floor.
She walked downstairs Thursday for the first time because she ran out of bottled water and felt she was going to faint. She said she met people on the stairs who helped her down.
"I did a lot of praying: 'Help me to get to the main floor.' Now I've got to pray to get to the top," she said. "I said, 'I'll go down today or they'll find me dead.'"
Contributing to this story were Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik, Michael Hill, Karen Matthews, Jennifer Peltz and Christina Rexrode.
- Malaysian military says missing jet changed...
- 'Burger King baby' now seeks birth mom on...
- New York apartment buildings collapse in...
- Japan marks 3rd anniversary of earthquake,...
- Europe: You can't use the name Parmesan if...
- 'Noah' banned in three countries weeks before...
- Supreme Court sides with Wyoming landowner;...
- Utah among states wrestling with developing,...
- Senate Democrats choose election... 20
- 'Noah' banned in three countries weeks... 20
- Supreme Court sides with Wyoming... 16
- Obama economists: Rosier picture if... 14
- Utah among states wrestling with... 11
- Survey: Uninsured rate drops from 17.1... 9
- Oil slick not from missing Malaysian... 9
- Obama continues telephone outreach on... 8