The sting in Sandy's tail
Eleven days after the superstorm struck, hundreds of thousands of its victims are still without power as rain and snow prolong their agony
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Friday 09 November 2012
A messy mix of wind, rain and snow lashed New Jersey and New York yesterday, leaving hundreds of thousands of people in darkness once again and compounding distress in communities still dealing with the fallout from Superstorm Sandy.
For many along the battered Jersey Shore all the way to Brooklyn, Long Island and parts of Connecticut, the storm bore down just as they were recovering from what in some instances was an eight-day-long power outage.
Others were still left in the dark, and in some cases without regular water supply and heating, when the second storm in as many weeks magnified already freezing conditions, provoked fresh power cuts, knocked tree limbs and disrupted regional rail and air links in the middle of the week. More than 200,000 people, and possibly up to 300,000, were affected by the new outages, heaping pressure on utility crews.
Early yesterday, more than 670,000 homes and businesses across the region – some estimates put the figure at up to 700,000 – were without power as a result of outages persisting since Sandy and the new cuts wrought by the new storm (known as a Nor'easter in the US).
New York power company Consolidated Edison, whose crews were working to fix connections for some 67,000 customers hit by Sandy, reported that the new storm had severed links to about 55,000 in the New York City and Westchester County area.
In Long Island, the local power authority and utilities reported that more than 200,000 homes and businesses were without electricity. On Wednesday, before the Nor'easter, the figure stood at 170,000.
Meanwhile, as the storm shifted, flights in and out of the New York and New Jersey region were being restored after more than 1,300 connections were cancelled late on Wednesday.
Although not as severe as Sandy – despite predictions, the Nor'easter did not bring flooding – the new weather system added to the headache faced by officials and left locals frustrated as their forbearance, tested last week by one of the worst storms ever to strike what is the most densely populated corridors in the US, wore thin.
"We lost power last week, just got it back for a day or two, and now we lost it again," John Monticello, a resident of Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey, told NBC News. "Every day it's the same now: turn on the gas burner for heat. Instant coffee. Use the iPad to find out what's going on in the rest of the world."
Earlier, as the storm approached, New Jersey's Governor, Chris Christie, summed up the feeling across these storm-ravaged communities: "I'm waiting for the locusts and pestilence next," he said.
The snowfall compounded the distress. The trail extended all the way from New Jersey to Maine, with the heaviest snowfall – accumulations of four to 10 inches – seen in the corridor from the interior of New Jersey to Connecticut.
With more than half of November to go, this month is already the third worst for snow in New York City's Central park, with an accumulation of around 4.7 inches. The last record was set in November 1938, when it saw 4.9 inches of snow. The worst, with six inches, was in 1898.
Wind speeds also picked up. The Nor'easter was reported to have brought gusts of at least 39mph – the force of a tropical storm – in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. In the eastern part of that state, wind speeds were as high as 76mph. Long Island saw gusts of up to 60mph.
Attempting to ease the strain on hard-hit homes, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced another set of special measures last night, this time to remove bottlenecks in the delivery of heating oil. Mr Bloomberg said that because of the supply and distribution logjams caused by the run of bad weather, he was temporarily suspending New York City limits on sulphur levels in heating oil until early December.
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