They've lost their homes, their businesses and many are still stranded, but residents in the battered Northeast are overcoming the aftereffects of Superstorm Sandy with a gritty resolve.
"It's sort of like the transit strike a few years ago," said Elizabeth Gorman, 40, a Queens resident, who walked across the Queensboro Bridge on Wednesday.
Gorman was part of a steady stream of commuters forced to walk or bike into Manhattan after Sandy roared ashore barely two days ago, wiping out roads, bridges and mass transit systems across the region.
Commuters, homeowners and businesses struggled with the loss of power and waterlogged or burned homes.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a "transportation emergency" Wednesday night, saying New York City subways, buses and commuter rails would be free of charge Thursday and Friday as a way to encourage people to use mass transit. Gridlock on Wednesday was "dangerous," he said.
But not all of the city's transit was operating. Fourteen of the city's 23 subway lines are opening Thursday, with buses helping to cover the unserved areas, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Joe Lhota said.
But there will be no subway service to lower Manhattan, which is still dealing with flooding and power outages, he said. And bus service, which resumed Thursday, was stopped below 23rd Street because the area is still dark and too dangerous, Lhota said.
The three major New York-area airports will all be open Thursday, albeit with limited service, authorities said. John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty reopened Wednesday with limited service, and LaGuardia -- where floodwaters covered runways and taxiways -- will reopen Thursday.
Many people across the region are still in need of basic supplies. President Barack Obama visited a shelter Wednesday in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, New Jersey, where he said he met a woman with an 8-month-old who has run out of diapers and formula.
"Those are the kinds of basic supplies and help that we can provide," he said.