Sandy: Barack Obama Sees New Jersey Damage

US President Barack Obama has told New Jersey residents devastated by Superstorm Sandy that the government will support them "for the long haul".

The region took the brunt of its impact and is among the worst affected areas on the East Coast of the United States, along with New York.

At least 62 people have been killed across the US and Canada.

Joined by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Mr Obama -  who described the disaster as "heartbreaking for the nation"  - inspected the impact from Sandy, flying high over flooded neighbourhoods and sand-strewn streets.

At a community centre where people have taken shelter, Mr Obama said: "We are going to be here for the long haul."

Later, after touring parts of the storm-ravaged region in Atlantic City on foot, he said his "biggest priority is restoring power to those without it".

He told those affected by the storm: "Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones. Their world has been torn apart ... they are in our thoughts and prayers.

"For those like the people I have had a chance to meet on this block, throughout New Jersey and throughout the region whose lives have been upended, my second message is: We are here for you, and we will not forget, we will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you've rebuilt."

He added: "We are going to have a lot of work to do. I don't want anybody to feel that somehow this is all going to get cleaned up overnight. We want to make sure people have realistic expectations.

"But what I can promise you is that the federal government will be working as closely as possible with the state and local officials - and we will not quit until this is done."

Businesses and homes along the shore were wrecked and communities were submerged under floodwater.

But talk in the state quickly turned to rebuilding and recovery.

"It's heartbreaking after being here 37 years," Barry Prezioso of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, said as he returned to his house in the coastal community to survey the damage.

"You see your home demolished like this, it's tough. But nobody got hurt and the upstairs is still liveable, so we can still live upstairs and clean this out. I'm sure there's people that had worse. I feel kind of lucky."

National Guard troops arrived in the flooded city of Hoboken to help evacuate thousands still stuck in their homes and deliver meals.

Fresh problems arose when fire crews were unable to reach blazes rekindled by natural gas leaks in the shore town of Mantoloking.

The President, who has suspended election campaigning for three days, is fighting a close race with Republican rival Mitt Romney and the White House has been keen to portray him as a strong leader ahead of polling day on November 6.

Mr Christie has been one of Mr Romney's most prominent supporters, but has been effusive in his praise of Mr Obama's response to the storm.

Mr Romney is currently campaigning in Florida, where he said people had "come together" to help each other following the storm.

Some newspapers have suggested that Tuesday's election could be delayed, but Sky News' Political Editor Adam Boulton said that was unlikely.

"No-one is talking about that. In Manhattan they haven't even called off the marathon this weekend."

Earlier, the President visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) for the second time in four days. On Sunday, he met officials and told reporters the government would "respond big and respond fast" after the massive storm made landfall.

More than eight million homes have been left without electricity by the biggest storm to hit the country in generations, which swamped parts of New York's subways system and Lower Manhattan's financial district.

It is feared it could be days before electricity is restored to some of those cut off - adding to their struggle to return daily life to some sense of normality.

Forecasters predict the storm could end up causing around \$20bn (£12bn) worth of damage in the US.

While the storm has now passed the worst-hit area, Sky News weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said the bad weather will continue.

"The storm is still reacting with cold air from the west, so there will be further heavy snowfall as well as inland flooding," she said.

"Rainfall totals could reach around 6-8 inches, and winds will remain gale force in strength.

"The forecast suggests that the centre of the low will move northwards from western Pennsylvania into the west of New York and then into Quebec by Thursday."

Queues could be seen outside museums, the Empire State Building, Broadway theatres and many stores in New York on Wednesday, but parks, the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and many other top attractions remained closed.

The city's Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan was reportedly forced to evacuate around 500 patients due to a power cut.

More than 80 homes in New York City's borough of Queens were destroyed in a fire caused by the storm.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who toured the area, said: "To describe it as looking like pictures we've seen of the end of World War Two is not overstating it. The area was completely levelled."

Neighbour John Frawley, 57, said: "I stayed up all night. The screams. The fire. It was horrifying."

Subways were flooded and public transport and flights disrupted across the areas hardest hit by the storm.

However as the rain and wind eased, JFK and Newark airports were reopened. LaGuardia airport remains closed, but is expected to reopen with a limited schedule on Thursday.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said a limited subway service would also resume on Thursday, while organisers of the New York City Marathon said Sunday's race was still on track to go ahead.

The UN Security Council chamber, situated in the basement of the United Nations headquarters overlooking the East River, was forced to move to a temporary base due to flooding.

Meanwhile, British nationals forced to leave belongings in hotels when they fled the storm were being issued with emergency passports to help them get home.