As Hurricane Sandy continued to churn inland as a downgraded storm on Tuesday, residents and officials began to survey the devastating trail of power outages, flooding and rubble that it left behind in New York City.


Less than 24 hours after it made landfall along the Northeast coast on Monday night, the storm started to weaken. But the force of the violent winds and lashing rains that transformed the landscapes of New York City and the region into tableaus of destruction was stark and unprecedented.

Roughly six million people, including many in a large swath of Manhattan, were without electricity. Streets were littered with debris and buildings were damaged. Seven subway tunnels under the East River were flooded. While several bridges over the East River were set to reopen, other mass transit service, including commuter rails, was still suspended.

In New York State, the deaths of at least 15 people were linked to the storm, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, with about 10 victims reported in New York City alone. Although some deaths were still being investigated, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Tuesday said that at least one death occurred when people stepped in a puddle where a power line had fallen; another occurred when a tree fell onto a house.

“We had a storm of unprecedented proportions,” he said at a news conference.

There were at least 26 deaths in seven states in the past 48 hours, when the storm toppled trees, whipped up destructive winds and sparked fires in several areas, government officials and emergency authorities said.

Falling limbs became deadly bludgeons in three of the New York deaths and two in Morris County, N.J., where The Associated Press reported a man and a woman were killed when a tree fell on their car Monday evening.

With most businesses and schools closed, life ground to a halt as residents hunkered down with stocks of food and water, and there was no clear timetable for a resumption of services, like transportation. Mr. Bloomberg said that schools would remain closed for a third day on Wednesday and that the authorities would try to restore subway service in about four days, but he did not provide an exact date.

By sending brackish water into so many subway tunnels, the storm became the most destructive in the 108-year history of New York’s subway system, said Joseph J. Lhota, the chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in an early morning statement. “We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery,” he said.

One of the most dramatic symbols of the scope of the challenge in New York City was visible 80 stories high, where a wind-tossed construction crane atop one of Manhattan’s tallest buildings still dangled over West 57th Street, after coming loose during the storm.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey called the damage to his state “incalculable” and said the Jersey Shore had been “devastated.” As he spoke on a series of morning talk shows on Tuesday, rescue teams were rushing to the aid of those stranded in Atlantic City and in areas of Bergen County where, he said, tidal waters had overwhelmed a protective natural berm. More