TODAY   |  November 01, 2012

Sandy latest: Thousands still trapped, towns gone

TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports from Hoboken, N.J., where chilling new images capture communities utterly destroyed; meanwhile, thousands still remain trapped in the region without water, power or heat.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> that event. let's start with natalie morales , just across the hudson river in hoboken , new jersey. officials there say it's going to take several days to pump flood waters out. natalie , good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you, matt. well, actually just as the flood waters have been starting to recede here, matt. you see right here behind me, we have a new concern there's now a water main break here in the southwest part of town. there's still about a foot of water in some areas. i'm not going to walk out as far as i can because the police are not encouraging us to do so. in fact, keeping a close watch. as i mentioned, this town already so deeply ravaged by this storm. more than 500 million gallons of water flooded these streets, about 20,000 residents were cut off, completely stranded in their homes. the national guard had to come in and evacuate them and take them to shelters. half of those residents as i understand, still in their homes, still stranded, the mayor is still calling for help. this is one of many communities torn apart by sandy's cruel path.

>> a grim new reality as the power of sandy's catastrophic punch continues to swell.

>> it's beyond belief. it's really catastrophic. from as far north and south as you can go, there's houses ripped off their foundations, torn apart .

>> reporter: new chilling images of neighborhoods utterly decimated, resembling war zones with homes crushed like crumbling match sticks.

>> i got nothing left. memories and everything else, everything's ruined. ruined.

>> reporter: the winds may be long gone, but the flooding isn't. here in hoboken , some 20,000 people trapped, many cold and hungry as the national guard arrived to rescue and replenish.

>> one thing we truly need, we need more fuel.

>> reporter: precious belongings have been washed away like memories. at the flood-ravaged jersey shore , president obama came to meet with new jersey's governor wednesday and personally assessed the damage.

>> we are here for you. and we will not forget, we will follow up to make sure that you get all the help that you need until you've rebuilt.

>> reporter: at shore communities, the beach now buries homes and businesses. sand plowed from the streets like snow in a blizzard.

>> you couldn't see anything. because the sand was so intense.

>> in new york city , a dramatic division.

>> there's no light, no power , no nothing.

>> reporter: a huge chunk of downtown manhattan struggling without power .

>> it's sort of like the city has been in some ways cut in half around 40th or 42nd street .

>> reporter: schools remain shut, but much of the city is finally coming to life. mayor bloomberg helped reopen the stock exchange thanks to generator power . limited subway service resumes today, but mass transit is a disaster. many have to get around either on foot or on wheels. the gridlock is now extreme and car pooling is a must.

>> from 6:00 a.m . till midnight, if you're coming into manhattan on one of those bridges, you have to have three people in the car.

>> reporter: fresh images from above breezy point, new york, show the fire destroyed more than 100 homes. and for monday, the roaring inferno that ripped through several shore front mansions in greenwich, connecticut. a stark reminder of sandy's vast reach. across the northeast, millions are still without power . in suburban neighborhoods, many enduring long lines for gas to power their generators. at gas stations that are open, it's sometimes taking hours just to fill up. there are looting concerns too, like in staten island .

>> they say what are you doing in that house? get out. you don't belong in here.

>> reporter: families up and down the coast are still reeling from sandy's strike. while coming to terms with a tough new reality and a very long road back.

>> everything is gone. but we've still got each other.

>> and savannah, back here in hoboken , as you can see, we're dealing with a little bit of water. but this is good news considering what this area looked like even just yesterday as the national guard trucks were rescuing people from their homes. the mayor, again, is calling people to help with donations. they need food, supply, resources here, blankets, things to keep people warm. a lot of people, still, are stranded in their homes and this is going to be a community that is going to remain probably in the dark for many days to come. and we are actually -- i have friends and neighbors who do have power , the lucky few, and i know here the new normal seems to be as in many communities about neighbors helping neighbors. those who have seem to be willing to share and are opening up their doors and welcoming people in. savannah?

>> natalie , thank you. you mentioned, natalie , some of the destruction along new jersey's coastline. nbc's