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Frankenstorm devastates the East Coast

Sandy, the Frankenstorm, lived up to her nickname on Monday as the monster storm slammed into the Jersey Shore and caused massive damage across much of the East Coast.

Deaths related to the killer storm were reported in seven states and in Canada. At least 10 people are dead in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reported on Tuesday morning, and he feared the toll will climb as rescue efforts continue.

“This was a devastating storm,” Bloomberg said. “This is maybe the worst we have ever seen.”

The mayor said New York City experienced 23 serious fires, including a devastating one in the seaside community of Breezy Point on the Rockaways in Queens where more than 80 houses burned down.

A 13-foot seawater surge flooded streets, subways and tunnels in Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Staten Island. New York’s vaulted subway system, serving millions of riders daily, remains shut down indefinitely. Bloomberg said the city is in the process of reopening bridges and roadways that had to be closed during the powerful storm, but urged motorists to stay off the streets for now.

“Our two biggest challenges going forward are restoring mass transit and restoring power,” Bloomberg said, noting that about 750,000 residents are without power.

Sandy’s high winds and torrential rains triggered massive flooding, overturned trees, fanned flames and caused power outages to millions living in an area spreading from Georgia to Michigan to New York to Maine.

The mountainous areas of Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania were hit with early snowstorms.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today is taking a helicopter tour to survey the storm’s damage after his state took the direct hit from Sandy. Atlantic City, the casino hot spot, was hard-hit and parts of the famed boardwalk were destroyed.

“The level of devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable,” Christie said Tuesday morning.

He said 2.4 million New Jersey households are without power and estimated that more than a week to fully restore electricity.

“It is beyond anything I thought I’d ever see,” Christie said, describing the storm damage. “Terrible. ... No question in my mind, the devastation that happened to New Jersey is beyond what happened to anyone else.”

The New York Times reported dangerous water levels at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Toms River, N.J., and the operators declared a stage two alert (four being the worst). The plant’s reactor has been shut down since Oct. 22 for refueling.

The massive storm has totally disrupted the nation’s transportation system, including train and airline travel, causing cancellations and delays from coast to coast.

Today, President Barack Obama conducted a video-teleconference breafing in the White House Situation Room to receive the latest update on the storm and on federal efforts that are already underway to support response activities in states that are affected by Sandy. Overnight, the President at the requests of the governors approved major disaster declarations for the states of New Jersey and New York, among others, making additional federal support for state and local efforts available as well as direct federal assistance to affected individuals in declared counties.

During the briefing, the President expressed his concern for those affected by the storm, as well as the heroic first-responders who are selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way to protect members of their communities, according to the White House blog.