The Journal Gazette

Home Search
jgmobile.net

New storm heads for battered coast

NYC, NJ still reeling after Sandy’s wrath

– A nor’easter blustered into New York and New Jersey on Wednesday, threatening to swamp homes all over again, plunge neighborhoods back into darkness and inflict more misery on tens of thousands of people still reeling from Superstorm Sandy.

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 many of Sandy’s victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold.

Thousands of people in low-lying neighborhoods staggered by the superstorm just over a week ago were warned to clear out, with authorities saying rain, wet snow and 60 mph gusts in the evening could bring more flooding, topple trees wrenched loose by Sandy, and erase some of the hard-won progress made in restoring electricity to millions of customers.

“I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. “We may take a setback in the next 24 hours.”

In New Jersey, public works crews worked to build up dunes along the shore to protect the stripped and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities already emptied by Sandy. New shelters opened.

In New York, police went to low-lying neighborhoods with loudspeakers, encouraging residents to leave. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t order new evacuations, and many people stayed behind, some because they feared looting, others because they figured whatever happens couldn’t be any worse than what they have gone through already.

All construction in New York City was halted – a precaution that needed no explanation after a construction crane collapsed last week in Sandy’s high winds and dangled menacingly over the streets of Manhattan – and parks were closed because of the danger of falling trees. Drivers were advised to stay off the road after 5 p.m.

By early afternoon, the storm was bringing rain and wet snow to New York, New Jersey and the Philadelphia area. A couple of inches of snow were possible in New York City.

“We’re petrified,” said James Alexander, a resident of the hard-hit Rockaways section of Queens. “It’s like a sequel to a horror movie.” Nevertheless, he said he was staying to watch over his house and his neighbors.

During Sandy, stores and houses all around him burned to the ground. The boardwalk, flagpoles, light poles and benches were heaved down the block or washed out to sea. His own house was largely spared, except for blown-out windows, but his car was swamped.

“Here we are, nine days later – freezing, no electricity, no nothing, waiting for another storm,” Alexander said.

On Staten Island, workers and residents on a washed-out block in Midland Beach continued to pull debris – old lawn chairs, stuffed animals, a basketball hoop – from their homes, even as the bad weather blew in.

Jane Murphy, a nurse, wondered, “How much worse can it get?” as she cleaned the inside of her flooded-out car.

The storm was a few hundred miles off New Jersey on Wednesday morning and was expected to remain offshore as it traveled to the northeast, passing near Cape Cod. Forecasters said there would be moderate coastal flooding, with storm surges of about 3 feet possible Wednesday into today – far less than the 8 to 14 feet Sandy hurled at the region.

The nor’easter’s winds were expected to be well below Sandy’s, which gusted to 90 mph.

Major airlines grounded hundreds flights in and out of the New York area ahead of the storm, causing another round of disruptions to ripple across the country.

The storm could bring repairs to a standstill because of federal safety regulations that prohibit linemen from working in bucket trucks when wind gusts reach 40 mph.

Authorities warned also that trees and limbs broken or weakened by Sandy could fall and that even where repairs have been made, the electrical system is highly fragile, with some substations fed by only a single power line instead of the usual several.

At a glance

The latest on the fallout from Superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast last week, and a new wintry storm hitting the Northeast:
FORECAST: A strengthening storm moving up the East Coast with snow, sleet, rain and wind gusts as high as 60 mph is expected to spread through the region through today. Storm surges of about 3 feet are possible, far lower than Sandy’s but still capable of damaging a vulnerable shoreline.
POWER OUTAGES: More than 675,000 homes and businesses, mostly in New Jersey and New York, down from a peak of more than 8.5 million. Figures from Sandy have fallen greatly but may start rising.
CONNECTICUT: State’s largest utility sends line workers and tree trimmers back to work as snow and winds start. Power outages: 8,300.
MASSACHUSETTS: Up to 4 inches of snow expected in western and central Massachusetts; Cape Cod and neighboring islands under high-wind warning. Outages: 7,700.
NEW JERSEY: Crews push sand back onto beaches to protect areas flooded by Sandy’s surge. New evacuations ordered in some communities already emptied by Sandy; new shelters open. Gov. Chris Christie warns of potential recovery setbacks. Outages: 370,000.
NEW YORK: Construction in New York City is halted ahead of rain, sleet and snow. Residents of low-lying neighborhoods are urged, but not ordered, to evacuate. Major airlines scrap flights more than a week after Sandy caused cancellation of more than 20,000. Outages: 270,000.
PENNSYLVANIA: Road and utility crews prepare for windblown snow, freezing rain and 1 to 5 inches of snow, including up to 4 inches in Philadelphia. Outages: 200.
RHODE ISLAND: Sandy recovery efforts are suspended as officials brace for new power failures. Outages: 560.
WEST VIRGINIA: Power is slowly being restored after Sandy’s heavy snowfall, but full recovery could take months. Schools remained closed in at least two districts. Outages: 18,700.
DEATHS: At least 106; figure has fluctuated as authorities release more information.

Copyright © 2014, www.jgmobile.net