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Storm Cleanup To Cost Hundreds Of Millions

Damage from a brutal nor'easter will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to repair, authorities said Thursday.

The storm left a swath of devastation from the beaches of South Carolina to the mountains of Maine. It knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people and is being blamed for at least 18 deaths nationwide.

One factor helping the cleanup now will be the weather.

"People in the East will see a stranger in the sky — The Sun! And it's going to be a beautiful weekend just about everywhere east of the Mississippi River," says CBS News meteorologist George Cullen.

Disaster response teams fanned out across the Northeast, cataloguing damage to public and private property. In just one northern New Jersey county, Bergen, the toll was estimated at $300 million alone.

"The water is not so much the problem now as the cleanup," said Brian Hague, a spokesman for Bergen County Executive Dennis McNerney.

"It's worse than Hurricane Floyd, ten times worse," Tina Malave in Passaic, N.J., told CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

New Jersey Acting Gov. Richard Codey says damage from the Passaic River is in the tens of millions. Delores Walker of Paterson still can't believe how fast the river rolled in.

"We would have never thought that that little river would have flooded. The whole block is flooded," Walker said.

In northern New England, the skies finally cleared after four days of rain, but some roads were still covered with water and others were waiting on repairs as highway officials and towns tried to assess the damage.

In Falmouth, Maine, David Segre pulled his 3-year-old son Sebastian in a red wagon as the buzzing of chain saws filled the air. In his neighborhood, many large trees were blown over, and the downed power, cable and telephone lines formed a jumble on the ground.

Segre and his family stayed put for three days before they'd had enough and spent Wednesday night in a hotel. But by Thursday, the sun was out and utility crews had arrived. A block away, a crew was replacing a broken utility pole and workers were chopping up the dozens of trees that had been knocked over.

"For the most part, people are pretty understanding," Segre said. "Having the sun out changes everyone's mood."

Around the region crews were working to restore power to an estimated 20,000 customers, mostly in the areas of Brunswick, Maine, Plymouth, N.H. and Rutland, Vt.

"We are restoring service one line, one block and one customer at a time," Central Vermont Public Service Corp. Vice President Joe Kraus said in a statement. "In many cases, crews are working three or four hours to restore service to three or four customers. In other cases, we're making similar repairs that affect just one or two customers."

In New Jersey, more than 1,000 residents were still living in emergency shelters Thursday morning, and 40 communities remained under states of emergency.

"The water is receding, but it's going to be a long process," said state police Sgt. Stephen Jones.

Just outside Princeton, the David Sarnoff Library hired a document repair company to try and save its rare collection of documents from the early days of radio, television and electronics — laboratory notebooks, technical reports, manuals, and manuscript.

And in Hampton Beach, N.H., crews worked to save homes along the water's edge that were weakened after soil washed away from their foundations.

The storm was blamed for 18 deaths, including one woman who was pulled from a vehicle submerged in a New Jersey river Wednesday.