A nor’easter brought gusting winds, rain, snow and the threat of flooding to the US northeast, menacing travelers with icy roads and snarling a rail line, while knocking out power to people who had only recently gotten it back after Hurricane Sandy.
Forecasters said the latest storm was weaker than first thought, but it still caused further damage to an already weakened infrastructure of the nation’s most densely populated region. Rain and wet snow continued to fall in New York City early yesterday after beginning about midday the day before.
“My son had just got his power back 2 days ago now along comes this nor’easter and it’s out again,” Mark Fendrick of Staten Island tweeted.
As authorities feared, the nor’easter brought down tree limbs and electrical wires, and utilities in New York and New Jersey reported that nearly 60,000 customers who lost power because of Sandy lost it all over again as a result of the northeaster storm.
“I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said.
Public works crews with heavy machinery worked to build up dunes to protect the battered shoreline.
More than half a million homes and businesses remained without power as temperatures hit freezing at night, and finding tens of thousands of people emergency housing — in some cases, for the long term — was the greatest challenge.
The utility Con Ed, which serves New York City, said that by early evening, the nor’easter knocked out power to at least 11,000 customers, some of whom had just gotten it back. Tens of thousands more were expected to lose power overnight.
The Long Island Power Authority said by evening that the number of customers in the dark had risen from 150,000 to more than 198,000.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered police to use loudspeakers to warn vulnerable residents, many of them in low-income public housing, about evacuating.
“Even though it’s not anywhere near as strong as Sandy — nor strong enough, in normal times, for us to evacuate anybody — out of precaution and because of the changing physical circumstances, we are going to go to some small areas and ask those people to go to higher ground,” Bloomberg said on Tuesday.
However, many were deciding to stay, worried about their empty homes being looted. Others decided the situation could not get much worse.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency put a number to the storm’s homeless in New York and New Jersey, saying 95,000 people were eligible for emergency housing assistance. Just under a million people were still without power in the region.
Storm surges along the coasts of New Jersey and New York were expected to reach perhaps 0.9m, only half to a third of what Sandy caused last week, but Sandy destroyed some protective dunes, especially in New Jersey, making even a weaker surge dangerous.