— NEW YORK (AP) — Two days after superstorm Sandy brought New York to a standstill, residents itching to get back to work and their old lives noticed small signs that the city might be getting back to — well, not quite normal.
Morning rush-hour traffic appeared thicker than on an ordinary day as people started to return to work in a New York without functioning subways. Cars were bumper to bumper on several major highways.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg planned to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange to reopen it after a rare two-day closure.
Perhaps most promising, though, was the people waiting at bus stops — a sign that mass transit was trying to resume even as the subway system and some vehicle tunnels remained crippled by Sandy's record storm surge.
Rosa Diaz, a 58-year-old diabetic, waited for a bus to take her to the Bronx so she could she could keep an appointment with her endocrinologist. She lives in the Flushing section of Queens but is staying with her mother, who lives in a senior residence in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood — with no power.
"It's horrible," she said. "Thank God, I bought gallons and gallons of water to drink and to wash with."
Even though workaday life was slowly returning, there was little false hope.
"Clearly, the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday as officials warned that power might not be back until the weekend for hundreds of thousands of people accustomed to their cosmopolitan lives.
While some bus service resumed and some bridges reopened, transit officials said they couldn't predict when the subway would run again after suffering the worst damage in its 108-year history.
The storm's deadly impact grew grimly clearer as the worst of it moved off: The death toll rose to 22 in the city, including two people who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment. A fire destroyed as many as 100 houses in a flooded beachfront neighborhood in Queens, while firefighters used boats to rescue people in chest-high water.