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After Sandy, residents 'feeling anxious' about fuel supplies (+video)

Sandy's toll was still being tallied Thursday, as clean-up efforts continued in New York City and surrounding areas. Concerns about safety, fuel shortages, and property damage are on people's minds. 

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At the high end of the range, Sandy would rank as the fourth costliest U.S. catastrophe ever, according to the Insurance Information Institute, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

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Power out, gas shortage 

The presidential campaign was back in full swing on Thursday after being on hold for several days because of the storm. President Barack Obama, locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney head of next Tuesday's election, appeared to gain politically from his disaster relief performance.

Christie, a vocal Romney supporter, praised Obama, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a political independent, endorsed Obama on Thursday.

In New York, U.N. headquarters suffered severe damage and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered recovery help to the United States and Caribbean nations affected by the storm.

The hunt for gasoline added to a climate of uncertainty as Sandy's death toll and price tag rose.

"I'm so stressed out," said Jessica Bajno, 29, a teacher from Elmont, Long Island, who was waiting in line for gas. "I've been driving around to nearby towns all morning, and being careful about not running out of gas in the process. Everything is closed. I'm feeling anxious."

Some residents may lack electricity for weeks. New York utility Consolidated Edison restored power to 250,000 customers, with 650,000 others still in the dark.

The vast majority will be restored by the weekend of Nov. 10-11, but "the remaining customer restorations could take an additional week or more," the company said.

Advertising creative director Chris Swift, 37, lost power in his apartment in Manhattan's Chelsea district on Monday and by Thursday he was so fed up he got on a bus to Boston.

"I tried 20 (New York City) hotels on foot as couldn't call them with no battery left on my phone, but they were all booked. I tried to get to (friends in) Brooklyn but cabs would not take me as they were running out gas," he said.

About 4.6 million homes and businesses in 15 U.S. states were without power on Thursday, down from a record high of nearly 8.5 million.

More deaths were recorded overnight in the New York borough of Staten Island, where authorities recovered 17 bodies after the storm lifted whole houses off their foundations. Among the dead were two boys, aged 4 and 2, who were swept from their mother's arms by the floodwaters, police said.

In all, 39 people died in New York City, officials said.

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