Fallen tree reveals historic bones amid storm devastation

Superstorm Sandy has revealed a skeleton which may date back to Colonial times, police in New Haven, Connecticut, said today.

Millions of people in the US are still without power, and at least 50 are dead, in the wake of the most devastating storm in decades to hit the country’s most densely-populated region.

It comes as US President Barack Obama, locked in a tight re-election bid, skipped campaign events in battleground states to visit victims of the superstorm in New Jersey.

Spokesman David Hartman said a woman who was with other bystanders called police after she saw bones in the upturned roots of a fallen oak tree on the town green.

Mr Hartman said the tree was planted on the green in 1909, on the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

He said the remains probably belong to one of thousands of people buried there in Colonial times. The remains will be evaluated by the state medical examiner.

Katie Carbo, who called police, told the New Haven Independent she saw something in the tree roots, and found the bones when she removed some dirt.

She said the skeleton “should be given a proper burial”.

Superstorm Sandy, which was reclassified after starting as a hurricane, has killed at least 50 people, many hit by falling trees, as the east coast was ravaged.

It inched inland across Pennsylvania, ready to bank toward western New York state to dump more of its water and likely cause more havoc last night.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when asked to assess the damage left by the storm, said: “Nature is an awful lot more powerful than we are.”

More than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states as far west as Michigan.

Nearly two million of those were in New York, where large parts of lower Manhattan lost electricity and entire streets ended up underwater – as did seven subway tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn at one point, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed for a second day from weather, the first time that has happened since a blizzard in 1888.

The city’s subway system, the lifeblood of more than five million residents, was damaged like never before and closed indefinitely, and Consolidated Edison said electricity in and around New York could take a week to restore.

Though early predictions of river flooding in Sandy’s inland path were petering out, colder temperatures made snow the main product of Sandy’s slow march from the sea.

Parts of the West Virginia mountains were blanketed with two feet of snow by yesterday afternoon and drifts four feet deep were reported at Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

By yesterday afternoon, there were still only hints of the economic impact of the storm. Airports remained closed across the East Coast and far beyond as tens of thousands of travellers found they were unable to get where they were going.

Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicted the storm will end up causing about $20bn in damages.

Sandy began in the Atlantic and knocked around the Caribbean – killing nearly 70 people – and strengthened into a hurricane as it chugged across the southeastern coast of the United States.

Some limited air travel is expected to return to the New York City metro area today following the superstorm.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey will open at 7am with limited service. They were closed in the storm.

It is unclear what carriers will have flights operating.

The Port Authority says some carriers will be landing planes with no passengers at JFK starting Tuesday night to be prepared for flights the next day.

New York’s LaGuardia Airport remains closed.

The parts of New York City still without power are seeing increased police patrols and other stepped-up security measures as they face the prospect of days without electricity.

Mr Bloomberg promised “a very heavy police presence” in the darkened neighbourhoods. Some prominent galleries in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood have brought in private security.

Officials said power might not be back until the weekend for hundreds of thousands of people.

There was no sign of looting or widespread crime, although about a dozen people were arrested in Coney Island and Queens on charges of trying to steal from shops, a pharmacy and a bank where the entire front was missing.

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