Travel eased and life slowly returned to normal for most New Englanders after a massive blizzard, but many remained without power in cold and darkened homes, and a forecast of rain brought a new worry — weight piling up dangerously on roofs already burdened by heavy snow.
The storm that slammed into the region with up to 3 feet of snow was blamed for at least 14 deaths in the Northeast and Canada, and brought some of the highest accumulations ever recorded. Still, coastal areas were largely spared catastrophic damage despite being lashed by strong waves and hurricane-force wind gusts at the height of the storm.
Hundreds of people, their homes without heat or electricity, were forced to take refuge in emergency shelters set up in schools or other places.
“For all the complaining everyone does, people really came through,” said Rich Dinsmore, 65, of Newport, R.I., who was staying at a Red Cross shelter set up in a middle school in Middletown after the power went out in his home on Friday.
Utility crews, some brought in from as far away as Georgia, Oklahoma and Quebec, raced to restore power to more than 300,000 customers — down from 650,000 in eight states at the height of the storm. In hardest-hit Massachusetts, where some 234,000 customers remained without power on Sunday, officials said some of the outages might linger until Tuesday.
The Long Island Power Authority reported outages on Long Island had dwindled to about 2,400 customers by Sunday afternoon.
The rapid pace of restoration was a far cry from Superstorm Sandy in late October, but officials pointed out that the storms were different, as were the scale of the outages. Sandy left 1.1 million customers in the dark.
A spokeswoman for National Grid, which is handling the restoration work, said some things had been done differently to allow for as quick a restoration as possible, like getting workers from off of Long Island in place before the storm hit to be able to help out.
“That was a huge improvement in terms of restoration,” Wendy Ladd said. She said 600 workers had been brought in from elsewhere to supplement the 400 workers on Long Island.
Boston recorded 24.9 inches of snow, making it the fifth-largest storm in the city since records were kept. The city was appealing to the state and private contractors for more front-end loaders and other heavy equipment to clear snow piles that were clogging residential streets.
The National Weather Service was forecasting rain and warmer temperatures in the region on Monday — which could begin melting some snow but also add considerable weight to snow already piled on roofs, posing the danger of collapse. Of greatest concern were flat or gently-sloped roofs and officials said people should try to clear them — but only if they could do so safely.
“We don’t recommend that people, unless they’re young and experienced, go up on roofs,” said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
A State-by-State Look at Northeast Snowstorm
(AP) – Following is a look at the effects in states and provinces of the massive storm that swept across the Northeast U.S. and southern Canada:
The storm dumped 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 that of 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. About 38,000 homes and businesses were without power at the storm’s peak.
Portland 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.
Boston was blanketed in up to 2 feet of snow. 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 twenties also died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a running snowed-in car.
The capital of Concord 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.
The state 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.
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.
Residents were urged to stay off the roads to allow crews to clear up to 2 feet of snow. About 180,000 homes and businesses lost power, and utilities warned it could be out for days.
At T.F. Green Airport, outbound flights were to resume Sunday afternoon. Public transit service is scheduled to resume Monday.
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.