Snowstorm delivers pre-Halloween trick

Oct. 31, 2011 at 9:32 PM   |   0 comments

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The mid-Atlantic and New England states dug out of a snowstorm that killed at least 13 people and left millions without power and Halloween activities in doubt.

The rare October snowstorm buried parts of the United States from West Virginia to Maine under at least a foot of snow, making trick-or-treat plans touch-and-go for many cities as temperatures were chilly and getting around was difficult.

Governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts issued emergency declarations for their states. President Barack Obama Monday signed an emergency declaration for Connecticut.

At least 1.7 million people were without power late Monday and officials said it might be Friday before electrical service is fully restored, CNN reported.

Some of the heaviest snow fell in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, but snowfall amounts of at least a foot were recorded from West Virginia to Maine. Peru, Mass., received 32 inches of snow.

"I never have seen this and I've lived here all my life, and that's more than 90 years," 92-year-old Genevieve Murphy of Westfield, Mass., told WWLP-TV, Springfield.

Officials in Foxborough, Mass., and surrounding communities warned that power may not be fully restored until Thursday and urged residents to evacuate their homes for someplace warmer, the Boston Herald reported.

Foxborough Town Manager Kevin Paicos expressed anger after learning National Grid dispatched only two utility trucks to survey the damage and wouldn't return to begin cleaning up until later Monday.

"The fact that they didn't have crews staged and ready to go is beyond belief," Paicos said.

The town manager said his top priority was "to make sure people don't freeze to death," and noted the combination of trick-or-treating and downed power lines amounted to "just an insane recipe for disaster."

Gov. Deval Patrick said three people died in Massachusetts, and at least four people were reported killed in Pennsylvania, CNN said. Four deaths were blamed on the storm in New Jersey and two in Connecticut.

Dozens of cities and towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut canceled or postponed Halloween activities. Worcester, Mass., asked residents to postpone Halloween celebrations until Thursday, when temperatures are expected to climb to 60 degrees, the Herald said.

Massachusetts transit officials warned commuters to expect delays along numerous lines.

Amtrak said Monday afternoon its Springfield line between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., will resume normal operations Tuesday. Service had been disrupted because of fallen trees, downed wires and "related signal issues on Amtrak and CSX infrastructure," Amtrak said in a statement.

Service will still be affected Tuesday on Vermonter trains, which will originate and terminate in New Haven, and Lake Shore Limited trains 448 and 449, which are canceled between Albany, N.Y., and Boston. Amtrak said alternate bus transportation would operate in place of Lake Shore Limited trains.

About 700 National Guard members were mobilized throughout Massachusetts Sunday, Patrick said.

Once the storm buried the states, travelers found tough going whether by train, airplane or vehicles, officials said.

In New York, Central Park lost an estimated 1,000 trees to the heavy snow, Central Park Conservancy President Douglas Blonsky told The New York Times.

On Sunday, Connecticut residents foraged for open grocery stores, coffee shops and gas stations, as well as hotels with rooms to let, the Hartford Courant reported.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy warned Monday that it could be a while before power is restored to every corner of Connecticut.

"This is going to be a long-term event," Malloy said.

"Unprecedented damage from this storm. Please prepare for worst case scenario -- a week or more without power," Connecticut Light and Power Co., the state's major utility, posted on Twitter Sunday.

The Red Cross and other agencies set up shelters in several states.

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