As Hurricane Sandy scourges the US east coast leaving behind a trail of devastation, US President Barack Obama has declared New York and New Jersey major disaster areas.

The declaration makes federal funds available to individuals affected by the storm, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema).

"Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programmes to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster," Fema said.

The storm has killed at least 26 people across the US, of which 10 in New York, bringing to 94 the total number of deaths in storm-related incidents since Frankenstorm hit the Caribbean.

In New York City's borough of Queens, at least 80 homes were destroyed in a fire. About 200 firefighters were deployed.

A hospital in Manhattan had to be evacuated after its basements were flooded by the record 13ft water surge that hit the island.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the consequences of the storm will be felt for quite some time and the city's death toll is expected rise.

In New Jersey, where Atlantic City had already been severely struck by the hurricane, three other towns - Moonachie, Little Ferry and Carlstadt - were under 5ft of water and hundreds of people were evacuated over fears that a levee would be breached.

"[It was] beyond anything I thought I'd ever see," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said.

More than seven million people have been left without power across the East Coast.

Boats rest on Broadway Avenue after they were washed ashore from a boatyard during Hurricane Sandy in Point Pleasant Beach, New JerseyReuters
Boats piled up by storm surge and the high tide lie in a pile at a marina in East Quogue, New YorkReuters
Homes devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy at the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New YorkReuters
A playground stands surrounded by water pushed up by Hurricane Sandy in Bellport, New YorkReuters
A general view shows the skyline of lower Manhattan in darkness after a preventive power outage caused by giant storm Sandy in New YorkReuters
A dead deer is pictured with debris left by storm surge from Hurricane Sandy and high tide in Southampton, New YorkReuters
Damaged traffic signal is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic CityReuters
Emergency personnel rescue residents from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New JerseyReuters
A huge fire that erupted as Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York City with near-hurricane force winds in the neighborhood Breezy Point in the borough of Queens in New YorkReuters
Homes devastated by Hurricane Sandy in Breezy Point, QueensReuters
Cilli and his dog Woubie are rescued from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New JerseyReuters
Personnel stand in front of a tree that fell on a house after being toppled by winds from the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in the east end of Toronto, CanadaReuters
A home stands surrounded by water pushed up by Hurricane Sandy in Bellport, New YorkReuters
A home sits along the shoreline badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Milford, ConnecticutReuters
A fireman carries a residents dog to safety from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little FerryReuters
A tanker that was ran aground in New York's Staten Island by hurricane SandyTwitter
Floodwaters overrun cars in New York's Lower East SideReuters