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Sandy-torn northeast deals with more wind, snow

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NEW YORK — The nor'easter that stymied recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy pulled away from New York and New Jersey Thursday, leaving a blanket of thick, wet snow that snapped storm-weakened trees and downed power lines, but didn't appear to add much more to the devastation.

Households from Brooklyn to storm-battered sections of the Jersey shore and Connecticut that had waited for days without power because of Sandy were plunged back into darkness in temperatures near freezing.

"For a home without power, it's great," said Iliay Bardash, 61, a computer programmer on Staten Island without electricity since last week. "But things are not worse, and for that I am thankful."

In New Jersey, utilities reported 400,000 power outages early Thursday; 20,000 of those were new. In New York City and Westchester, more than 70,000 customers were without power after the storm knocked out an additional 55,000 customers.

There were 60,000 new outages on Long Island, where more than 300,000 customers were without power.

"It's just colder now," said Anthony Gragnano, who lives in Lindenhurst, N.Y. on Long Island in a hard-hit area. "We still don't have heat or power, but aside from a little snow, we're good."

Gragnano's basement was flooded and the family has been living off a generator, and he has no idea when to expect power.

Roads in New Jersey and New York City were clear for the morning commute, and rail lines into New York were running smoothly so far, despite snow still coming down heavily in some areas.

The nor'easter, as promised, brought gusting winds, rain and snow, but not the flooding that was anticipated.

"The good news, thank goodness, is except for maybe 2 inches of snow, there were no other problems," said Randi Savron, 51, a schoolteacher who lives in the Rockaways, one of the areas that flooded badly last week. The idyllic beachfront boardwalk was loosed from pilings and ended up outside her apartment building door.

She said it seemed like work would continue.

For Consolidated Edison, the extra outages were dealt with swiftly, so there were only about 3,000 customers added to the total of 67,000 who were still out Wednesday.

"I think we're going to be able to power through. Our objective was to get power restored to everyone by the weekend and we're still working with that goal," said Alfonso Quiroz, a spokesman for the utility.

Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn't be a big deal. But large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound, with the electrical system highly fragile and many of Sandy's victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold. As the storm picked up in intensity Wednesday evening, lights started flickering off again.

Residents from Connecticut to Rhode Island saw 3 to 6 inches of snow on Wednesday. Worcester, Mass., had 8 inches of snow, and Freehold, N.J., had just over a foot overnight.

There was good weather news: temperatures over the next few days will be in the 50s in southern New England, said meteorologist Frank Nocera, and on Sunday it could edge into the 60s.

In New York and New Jersey, rain and 60 mph wind gusts swept through Wednesday evening.

"I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.

Ahead of the storm, public works crews in New Jersey built up dunes to protect the stripped and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities already emptied by Sandy. New shelters opened.

All construction in New York City was halted — a precaution that needed no explanation after a crane collapsed last week in Sandy's high winds and dangled menacingly over the streets of Manhattan. Parks were closed because of the danger of falling trees.

Airlines canceled at least 1,300 U.S. flights in and out of the New York metropolitan area, causing a new round of disruptions that rippled across the country.

Sandy killed more than 100 people in 10 states, with most of the victims in New York and New Jersey. Long lines persisted at gas stations but were shorter than they were days ago. By early Thursday, more than 292,700 homes and business in New York state were without power, and another 403,000 in New Jersey lacked electricity.

Elena McDonnell lived through Sandy last week and remained without power in her Staten Island home, she didn't fear the storm and said it was just a blip in the cleanup efforts.

"We're going to go back in a little while and start packing more stuff," she said. "There's so much more to do."

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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Kiley Armstrong, Jonathan Fahey, Tom Hays, David B. Caruso, Meghan Barr, Jennifer Peltz and Deepti Hajela in New York; Jim Fitzgerald in White Plains, N.Y.; and Angela Delli Santi in Harvey Cedars, N.J. Eltman reported from Garden City, N.Y.

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