President Obama declared New York a disaster area as Hurricane Sandy pounded the east coast of the United States with sheets of rain and high winds, leaving several people dead and millions without power.

Winds are still gusting at 45 mph in some areas of the East. 30 foot storm surges were reported as Sandy came ashore in the New York and New Jersey areas.

President Obama suspended his campaign efforts to concentrate on federal hurricane relief efforts. On Monday, Obama stood before the cameras and warned New Yorkers to evacuate or stay inside their homes. He said Hurricane Sandy would be “big and powerful” but he said the federal government was ready.

As with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, a levee broke in Northern New Jersey on Monday, causing massive flooding. Heavy snow was reported in West Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, leaving many homes without power and snow drifts up to the roofs of cars.

But New York suffered the most damage in the aftermath of the biggest ‘Superstorm’ to hit the east in 100 years. A Con Ed transformer exploded leaving 7 million customers without power. Millions of New York residents are in stuck in their homes in darkness, surrounded by up to 5 feet of standing water in some areas.

A building in the Chelsea, NY area was damaged when the facade crumbled to the ground leaving the front of the building exposed to wind and rain. No injuries were reported.

High winds snapped a crane atop a luxury Manhattan hi-rise that was under construction. The crane’s boom swayed precariously in the wind 75 stories above the street. The NYPD sealed off several blocks area around the hi-rise, but the boom never fell.

The power outage also wreaked havoc on one of the world’s biggest websites, The, which was knocked offline during the night. “We are working around the clock to get the site back to normal,” read a message posted on the site this morning.

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  • Photos: AP