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Northeast blizzard blamed for 11 U.S. deaths

3:53 PM, Feb 10, 2013   |    comments
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John Bacon and Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY

The thick blanket of snow and troubles that buried most of the Northeast this weekend slowly began receding Sunday, with power being restored in some areas, and highways and airports again coming to life.

Power had returned to more than 300,000 people and businesses Sunday. That's almost half the number left cold and dark during the height of the brutal and historic storm that dumped up to 3 feet of snow and drew blame for 11 deaths in the U.S alone.

Although more than 6,000 flights have been canceled in the region since Friday, New York's major airports were operational Sunday. Even Boston's Logan International Airport was open for business.

And the sun came out.

In Somerset, Mass., Mary Lewis, 48, was feeling some relief Sunday, her house again warm after almost 24 hours without power. She, her husband and teen daughter had spent hours trying to stay warm with the heat of a fireplace and hot chocolate from a gas grill. They finally had to abandon their home, taking shelter with a neighbor who never lost power.

Her power was restored late Saturday. On Sunday she was was able to drive to the home of her parents, 45 minutes away, to help dig them out.

"It was a little stressful for awhile, but it's getting better," Lewis said. "At least we were prepared for it. We are resilient."

In Cambridge, Mass., about a dozen people were shoveling their cars out Sunday along a snowbound residential street. While main streets in Boston's metro area were clear, side streets still had lots of snow. An occasional vehicle crept along at about 10 mph.

Marie and Pierre Humblet were feeling ambitious. They were well-equipped, they said, with a coal shovel, a regular snow shovel and a dust pan.

"We are trying to be careful so we don't add snow to our neighbors' cars," said Marie Humblet, 69, who, with her husband, carried shovelfuls of snow across the street and dumped them. "It's hard because there's nowhere to put the snow," she said.

Much work remains before normalcy returns following the storm that left 14 people dead in the U.S. and Canada, including an 11-year-old Boston boy who was overcome by carbon monoxide in a running car that his father was digging out of a snow bank.

Hurricane-force winds and history making snowfalls had conspired to spread misery from New Jersey to Maine. Winds gusted to 76 mph in Boston and 84 mph in Cuttyhunk, Mass., during the height of the storm Saturday, the National Weather Service reported. The storm piled the most snow on Hamden, Conn. - 40 inches - and was the fifth largest in Boston history, with 24.9 inches of snow recorded there.

The 14.8 inches that fell on Saturday alone broke Boston's record for of 12.4 inches in a single day, set in 1994.

The 31.9 inches in Portland, Maine, is the most ever recorded there from a single snowstorm; the storm was the second biggest for Hartford, Conn. (22.8 inches) and Concord, N.H. (24 inches), and third biggest in Worcester, Mass. (28.7 inches).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said his city dodged the worst of the weather, with Central Park coming in at just under a foot of snow.

But in New England, while many highways were cleared Sunday, many side roads remained impassable and cars remained entombed by snow drifts. Some people found the snow packed so high against their homes they couldn't get their doors open.

In Massachusetts, where most of the outages occurred, NStar utility said it was developing a timeline for when residents without power could expect relief.

Municipal workers from New York to Boston labored through the night Saturday in snow-bound communities.

"We've never seen anything like this," said Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone of Long Island, which got more than 2½ feet of snow.

Amtrak said trains between New York and Boston were suspended Saturday but some trains would run Sunday.

The winter storm was not as bad as some of the forecasts led many to fear, and not as dire as the Blizzard of '78, used by longtime New Englanders as the benchmark by which all other winter storms are measured.

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