Anxiety Grows as Thousands Remain Stranded and in the Dark After Storm

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Grabbing shovels large and small, residents and emergency workers across the Northeast struggled to dig out on Sunday after a gigantic midwinter storm left much of the region buried under drifting snow.

City streets resembled ski slopes or mountain passes, with cars and even some houses obscured by a thick blanket of white. More than three feet of snow fell in parts of Connecticut, and more than two feet accumulated on Long Island and in Massachusetts, where the storm caused coastal flooding that forced evacuations.

Armies of snowplows and workers with shovels were making slow progress, and many cars remained abandoned along impassable roadways. Anxiety was growing among those unable to escape their homes and neighborhoods.

"I hope I'm plowed out by Monday night," said Emanuel Machado, 47, an architectural designer in Westport, Conn. "By that time, I'll be running out of groceries."

The storm, spawned by the collision of two weather systems, affected more than 40 million people. So far, only a handful of people have died, including several elderly people who died of heart attacks while shoveling snow. Several people, including a boy in Boston, have died from carbon monoxide poisoning, while seeking refuge from the cold in cars. By Sunday morning, more than 300,000 customers remained without power, down from over 650,000, mostly in southeastern Massachusetts and on Cape Cod, in Rhode Island and on the eastern Connecticut shore. NStar, which provides much of Massachusetts with electricity and natural gas, said it was still too dangerous to send in crews to many area. Flooding during the storm also caused extensive damage to the electric infrastructure in Massachusetts.

Getting rid of all the snow is now the most pressing concern.

President Obama declared a state of emergency in Connecticut on Sunday, ordering federal aid to supplement local emergency response efforts. Calling the storm "historic," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, praised the president's decision, and pressed residents to stay out of the way of emergency crews until the snow was cleared.

"While the ban on travel has been lifted, we are continuing to urge residents to stay off the roads, if at all possible," Mr. Malloy said in a statement. "This is particularly true for tractor-trailers. Every time someone gets stuck, it is preventing plows from doing their jobs."

For some, moving at all has proved nearly impossible. In Old Lyme, Conn., Beth Hamilton and her husband, Matthew Barrett, still had no power and were cooking and warming their home with a wood-burning stove. Hacking through all the snow has been difficult.

"We really don't know what's going on, but there has not been a single snowplow through here yet," said Ms. Hamilton, a composition teacher, who answered her cellphone sounding winded and exasperated. "We're shoveling, just nonstop shoveling," she said.

When the storm blew through on Friday night and early Saturday, many in the region still had not recovered from Hurricane Sandy four months earlier. Though New York City was spared the worst of the damage this time, out on Long Island the situation was more grim. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Sunday that officials had scrambled to send workers and equipment to Suffolk County in eastern Long Island, where hundreds of motorists were trapped on roadways because of the quickly falling snow. In what he described as one of the largest emergency mobilizations for a snowstorm in state history, Mr. Cuomo said over 600 pieces of snow-removal equipment and about 1,000 extra workers had been sent to dig out the county.

"The state will continue to do everything possible to augment existing recovery work, and will ensure that residents of Suffolk County can go back to life as normal as quickly as possible," Mr. Cuomo said.

A large section of the Long Island Expressway that runs through Suffolk County was closed to clear snow on Sunday, and many trucks, attempting to drive on snow-clogged county roads, became stuck. They, in turn, blocked cars and snowplows. Michael Krieger, 47, traveled from Raleigh, N.C., to Suffolk County with a snow-removal crew and spent Saturday and early Sunday clearing parking lots. He said the sun had melted some of the snow on Saturday but created a crust of ice above what was left of the wet, heavy snow.

"It's a lot harder to dig through this stuff," said Mr. Krieger, who will move on to Boston later on Sunday. "It's a tedious deal. Arduous."

Off the roads, transportation problems had eased somewhat. Airlines had begun to restore service after canceling more than 5,000 flights. Logan International Airport in Boston and the three major airports in the New York City area have all resumed operations.

Amtrak announced that it had resumed limited service between New York and Boston. Metro North service remained suspended between Samford and New Haven in Connecticut, but was otherwise running on a normal Sunday schedule. The Metropolitan Transit Authority also said that most service on the Long Island Railroad had been restored.

For some, the best remedy has been to slowdown, grab a sled and enjoy the strange and often beautiful new landscapes.

Scrambling over snowy hills and frozen thoroughfares in Cambridge, Mass, Georgina C. Perry needed extra time to make it to church on Sunday morning. But it was something of a blessing, she said.

"I imagined I was at the Alps, without the altitude," she said. "I'm so, so pleased that I was part of this phenomenal natural event."

Reporting was contributed by Robert Davey, Ann Farmer, N. R. Kleinfield, Dina Kraft, Elizabeth Maker, Eli Rosenberg, Marc Santora, Michael Schwirtz, Katharine Q. Seelye, Ravi Somaiya, Alex Vadukul and Vivian Yee.

nation

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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