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Power restored to most in Northeast after weekend blizzard

Published 2/15/2013 8:57:18 AM

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(Associated Press/tEDmag.com) — Most utility customers in Massachusetts have had their power restored following the weekend snowstorm.

More than 400,000 outages were reported at the height of the storm that left many areas with at least two feet of snow.

As of mid-evening Wednesday, NStar said it had about 500 customers without power, mostly in Marshfield and Plymouth, and expected to finish restoration ahead of its Thursday time estimate.

National Grid was down to about a dozen isolated outages.

Gov. Deval Patrick said Wednesday that he was more satisfied with the response by the utilities than he was on the previous day, while adding that he understood the frustration of residents who are still without power.

State officials have said they will assess the response by the utilities to the storm once the restoration process is complete.

Boston was blanketed in up to 2 feet of snow, falling short of the city's record of 27.6 inches set in 2003. In some communities just outside the city, totals were higher, including 30 inches in both Quincy and Framingham. Hardest hit were the South Shore and Cape Cod, but there were no serious injuries due to flooding, the governor said.

An 11-year-old boy died of carbon monoxide poisoning after being overcome as he sat in a running car to keep warm, while his father was shoveling snow to get the car out of a snow bank in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. A Boston man believed to be in his 20s also died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a running, snowed-in car. Also, a longtime member of the Worcester Fire Department suffered a heart attack after shoveling snow at his Webster home Saturday and died at a hospital.

The state enforced its first travel ban on roads since the Blizzard of '78, a ferocious storm that dropped 27 inches of snow, packed hurricane-force winds and claimed dozens of lives.

The storm dumped at as much as 3 feet of snow on Connecticut, paralyzing much of the state. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency for the state, allowing federal aid to be used in recovery.

Five deaths apparently were weather related, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, including a 73-year-old man who died when he fell while cleaning up in Danbury. The National Guard was brought in to help clear snow in New Haven, which got 34 inches. Snow totals were 32 inches in Manchester and 20 inches in Danbury.

The governor ordered all roads closed for nearly a day, and even emergency responders got stuck on highways.

Portland, Maine set a record snowfall reading of 31.9 inches, the National Weather Service said, and blowing snow reduced visibility on the coast. The weather contributed to a fatal crash.

Vehicles, including state police cruisers, were stuck in the deep snow, state police said, warning that stranded drivers should expect long waits for tow trucks. About 12,000 Maine homes and businesses lost power.

The capital of Concord, N.H. saw its second-highest snow total on record, 24 inches. Both Seabrook and East Hampstead saw 26 inches of snow. There were only a few hundred power failures statewide.

Saturday morning's high tide sent waves crashing into closed roads along the seacoast, local police said, but there were no reports of significant damage.

New Jersey was spared the worst of the storm, and the highest snowfalls were spread across northern New Jersey, where River Vale got 15 inches, the National Weather Service reported.

Bus and train service that was briefly suspended, and Newark Liberty Airport was closed Friday night. Flooding, seen on a massive scale during Superstorm Sandy, did not appear to cause major problems.

Officials say just a few thousand customers lost power during the storm, and nearly all had their service restored by early Saturday afternoon.

Police in New York had to use snowmobiles to reach ambulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, some snowplow trucks and passenger vehicles stranded overnight on the Long Island Expressway. About 10,000 homes and businesses lost power on Long Island, which saw as much as 2½ feet of snow. Only 193 had no power by early Monday.

About a foot of snow fell on New York City, which was "in great shape," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. The Staten Island neighborhoods hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy dodged another round of flooding.

Airports reopened Saturday and New York transportation officials told commuters to expect nearly normal service Monday on trains. Plowing continued on a 27-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway that had been closed.

Three deaths in the state were blamed on the storm. A 23-year-old man plowing his driveway with a farm tractor went off the edge of the road and was killed in Columbia County, police said. A 74-year-old was fatally struck by a car in Poughkeepsie; the driver said she lost control in the snowy conditions, police said. And a 58-year-old man apparently suffered a medical problem while removing snow from his car at a senior citizens' apartment complex in Selden on Long Island.

Residents in Rhode Island were urged to stay off the roads to allow crews to clear up to 2 feet of snow.

At T.F. Green Airport, outbound flights were to resume Sunday afternoon. Public transit service scheduled to resume Monday.

National Grid crews have restored power to nearly all of the utility's customers in Rhode Island.

The utility reported early Wednesday that only five customers were still in the dark. National Grid had reported 2,700 outages as of Tuesday morning.

Nearly 187,000 homes and businesses in Rhode Island lost power during the height of the storm last Friday and Saturday.

Wind, not snow or tides, was the issue in Vermont. Ferry service between Charlotte, Vt., and Essex, N.Y., was closed Saturday because of the gusts. Parts of the state saw 10 inches of snow.

Sources: State and local authorities; AP reporting

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