Bus service a small sign of normalcy for NYC

A general view of submerged cars on Ave. C and 7th st, after severe flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, on October 30, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. The storm has claimed at least 16 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City, with wide spread power outages and significant flooding in parts of the city. Christos Pathiakis/Getty Images

Updated at 10:02 p.m. ET

New YorkLess than 24 hours after superstorm Sandy slammed New York City, a small sign of normalcy returned.

Partial bus service will has been restored as of 5 p.m., and was offering free rides on a Sunday schedule. On Wednesday, a full schedule of buses is expected to resume, and will continue to be offered fare-free.

Officials began assessing the damage to the nation's largest subway system Tuesday, which has been shut down indefinitely. All 10 tunnels in lower Manhattan, which connect the borough to Brooklyn and parts of Queens were flooded in what MTA chairman Joe Lhota told WCBS-TV was the "most devastating" event in the history of the system.

On its website, MTA states: "In the period of a few hours, seven East River subway tubes, two Long Island Rail Road tubes linking Manhattan with Queens and two vehicular tunnels were inundated by a wall of water, along with one subway bridge, three subway yards and six bus depots."

Pumping was under way but workers ultimately will have to walk all the hundreds of miles of track to inspect it, an official said, and it wasn't clear how long that would take. Trains had been moved to safety before the storm.

Among other NYC-area transportation announcement, officials have said: The Staten Island Ferry would remain closed until further notice; Metro-North Railroad is unable to operate regular service on its Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines until further notice; the Verrazano-Narrows, Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Henry Hudson, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Ed Koch-Queensboro, RFK, and Tappan Zee bridges have reopened; all PATH train service and stations have shut down; Amtrak has canceled Northeast Corridor service north of NYC, and nearly all service on the eastern seaboard, including Acela Express Northeast Regional, Keystone and Shuttle trains; Holland and Hugh Carey (formerly Brooklyn-Battery) Tunnels are closed; and the Gil Hodges - Marine Park and Cross Bay Bridges remain closed.

More devastatingly, at least 18 people in New York City died in the storm, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday evening.

A man in Queens and a couple in Brooklyn were killed by falling trees. One woman may have died when she stepped in a puddle that hid an electrical line. Others either drowned or were found dead in a home or car. Bloomberg said at least one person drowned in a home.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," he said, offering no firm timetable on when power or subway service would be restored.

Despite the setbacks, another small piece of good news was announced late Tuesday. Officials for the New York City marathon, scheduled for Sunday, said they are moving ahead with plans for the race. The NFL and NBA also said they plan to carry on with their schedules, although the Brooklyn Nets home opener against the New York Knicks on Thursday night may be in jeopardy.

While there are already some signs of a return for New York, many other parts of city life remain in limbo. Schools will remain closed Wednesday. ConEdison, the city's main utility service, said those without power might not get it back before the weekend. The famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade has been canceled for the first time in 39 years.

Below is a look at how the behemoth storm has affected other parts of the nation's largest city. A day after the storm hit, New Yorkers were coping with flooding in some areas, digging out from the mucky leftovers of receding waters in others and bracing for days without power.

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WALL STREET

With power out to more than 750,000 New Yorkers, much of the nation's financial capital was dark Tuesday. Some narrow streets in the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan were flooded, as were some subway stations.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed for the second day but planned to reopen Wednesday.

Five cars piled on top of each other floated in a flooded loading dock in the Financial District. People stopped to gawk and take pictures. The streets were littered with debris, uprooted trees and glass from broken windows. The storm had shattered the 8-foot-tall panes of glass of one building.

At a darkened luxury high-rise building called the William Beaver House, resident manager John Sarich was sending porters with flashlights up and down the 47 flights of stairs to check on residents. He said most of the residents had stayed put despite calls to evacuate lower Manhattan. One pregnant woman in the building started having contractions Monday night. Sarich said that before the power went out, he nervously researched on the Internet how to deliver a baby.

"I said, `Oh, boy, I'm in trouble,"' Sarich recalled.

The woman, however, found a cab to take her to a hospital.

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BREEZY POINT BLAZE

A huge fire destroyed 80 to 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood on Tuesday, injuring three people and forcing firefighters to undertake daring rescues. More than 190 firefighters contained the blaze but were still putting out some pockets of fire more than nine hours after it erupted.

As daylight broke, neighbors walked around aimlessly through their smoke-filled neighborhood, which sits on the Rockaway peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. Electrical wires dangled within feet of the street.

Officials said the fire was reported around 11 p.m. Monday in an area flooded by the superstorm. Video footage of the scene showed a swath of tightly packed homes engulfed in orange flames as firefighters hauled hoses while sloshing in ankle-high water. Many homes appeared flattened by the wind-whipped flames.

Allison Miller stood on what was left of the buckled boardwalk in tears. She said two family beach homes were destroyed by the fire as well.

"My house is gone," she said.

John Frawley said he, too, made a mistake by staying behind.

"I stayed up all night," he said. "The screams. The fire. It was horrifying."

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