The Heat Is Online

Windstorms, Downpours Cut Power to Half-Million Homes in northeastern US

New England sees storm flooding, disruptions

Rain swamps parts of New England; NYC got 65,000 911 calls

The Associated Press, March. 15, 2010

EGG HARBOR CITY, N.J. - A torrential rainstorm that brought heavy winds to the Northeast, downing trees, flooding roadways and knocking out power, continued to pour rain on New England on Monday.
At least nine people died in storm-related accidents, and nearly half a million people were without electricity in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut at the peak of the storm.
The ferocious storm led to near-record numbers of 911 calls in New York. New York City experienced the second-highest volume of 911 calls ever. It got 65,000 calls between 11 p.m. Friday and 11 p.m. Saturday, second only to the 96,000 calls made during the 2003 blackout.
While the rain tapered off south of New York on Monday morning, wind-whipped precipitation continued to fall in New England.
In Boston, workers threw up sandbags around the entrance to a subway station near Fenway Park on Monday morning as the Muddy River rose and threatened the station.
The Massachusetts Port Authority said the weather was causing some delays and cancellations at Logan International Airport and several low-lying roads and highway ramps in Massachusetts were closed.
There also were numerous road closures in southeastern New Hampshire due to flooding.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency, which would allow National Guard troops to be called up if needed.

Officials were trying to decide whether to open the dam more, but that could worsen flooding downstream in Warwick and Cranston. A parking lot at a mall downstream was already under two feet of water.

In signing the declaration Sunday night, Christie said he wants to ensure local and county resources are supplemented if needed. In Rhode Island, crews were using sand bags and granite blocks on Monday to shore up a dam in West Warwick that is at risk of breaking due to heavy rain.

Day off for kids

Schools were closed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York on Monday.

Utility crews were making headway in restoring power. In New Jersey, more than 100,000 customers were without service Monday, down from a peak of 235,000. In Connecticut, two major utility companies said more than 57,000 customers were still without power, down from a peak of about 80,000.
The storm, which carried wind gusts of up to 70 mph, came about two weeks after heavy snow and hurricane-force winds left more than 1 million customers in the Northeast in the dark.
"I spent most of the past few months clearing snow and ice out my driveway, sidewalks, front walks, and now we're picking up all these branches," Jack Alexander said Sunday as he and his family worked to clear debris from the front yard of their Egg Harbor City home. "It seems like we've had every type of weather event you could have this winter — I'm almost afraid to see what else can happen."
In Atlantic City, N.J., residents in a condominium complex and two apartment buildings were ordered to leave their homes Saturday after a crane snapped and twisted at the Revel Entertainment casino construction site, sending debris crashing through a window of a police cruiser. No one was hurt. The residents may not be able to return until Tuesday.
Hundreds of people remained out of their homes in the northern New Jersey community of Bound Brook, where flooding is common.
Among those in a shelter were the Malik family, including eldest son Norbert, who celebrated his ninth birthday Sunday. His mom said he had cried Saturday night because he was worried the storm would ruin his celebration. Instead, he said it was the best birthday he ever had.
"I got to ride in a police boat, and then a truck and a small bus," said Norbert.
Death toll

Falling trees proved to be a deadly hazard.
A New Jersey woman was killed and three others were injured in Westport, Conn., after a tree fell on a car Saturday night during the storm, police said. Another woman died when a tree struck her as she was walking in Greenwich, Conn., they said.
In the suburb of Teaneck, N.J., two neighbors were killed by a falling tree as they headed home from a prayer service at a synagogue.

In Hartsdale, N.Y., another suburb, a man was killed when a large tree crushed the roof of his car and entangled it in live wires.
A 73-year-old woman was killed by a falling tree while walking to her car in Bay Shore, N.Y. Three people tried to save the Brooklyn woman.
In New Hampshire, a large pine tree fell on a car traveling on Interstate 93 on Sunday afternoon, killing a man and injuring his wife and child, state police said.
In Lyme, Conn., a 75-year-old man drowned accidentally Sunday afternoon in a pond behind his home. And in Rhode Island, an off-duty state trooper died early Sunday after his car hydroplaned in standing water left from the storm, state police said.
© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Rain and Wind Created a Deadly Storm

The New York Times, March 15, 2010
The scenes of devastation in the New York area were so widespread that some compared what they saw to the worst of natural disasters. Nearly everyone had a storm-related tale, mixing inconvenience and a sense of wonder at forces that effortlessly ripped trees from the ground, roots and all. And there were stories of loss and tragedy.
By the time the worst of the weekend’s storm was over, at least six people were killed, countless vehicles and homes were smashed, scores of roadways were left impassable and more than 500,000 homes had lost power — many of them to face darkness for days to come.
On Sunday, the storm’s lingering effects — and the recovery it required — became clearer.
Utility companies raced to restore electricity and phone service, residents in some New Jersey communities were forced to evacuate because of rising water levels, and some schools announced they would be closed on Monday.
On Long Island, electricity had been interrupted at about 241,000 homes, but officials said service had been restored to about 60 percent of those on Sunday.
Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Power Authority, called the storm among “the top five or six weather events that have impacted Long Island in the last 40 years.”
And amid all of that, some still tried to find humor in the chaos.
When a large tree hit their car on Saturday afternoon, Anthony and Nancy Amoriello of Scarsdale, N.Y., thought that would be the extent of their storm-related damage. But that evening, they heard a loud thud. They ran to the living room of their small Cape Cod house to find a seven-foot tree limb protruding through the ceiling.
“It reminds me of a large elephant trunk,” said Mrs. Amoriello, 71, as she spread a plastic tarp across her furniture. “At least we can laugh about it.”
In Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., Robin Joseph’s family found a silver lining to the tree that damaged the roof of their home. A contractor had recently told them that the tree cast so much shade over their roof that there was not enough light to fuel the solar panels they wanted.
“As soon as we realized our children were O.K., my husband said, ‘O.K., now we can get solar panels,’ ” Ms. Joseph said.
In New York City, Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the city parks department, said more than 1,110 trees that line city streets had fallen or split. Twenty-five crews had been dispatched to investigate reports of trees crashing into 117 homes. Private contractors will be added Monday morning on an emergency basis. Uncounted hundreds more trees and limbs fell in city parks, he said.
“It’s quite bad,” Mr. Benepe said, “one of the worst we’ve seen in a long time. It’s been a very active late winter for us.”
In Teaneck, N.J., two men walking home from religious services at a local synagogue were killed Saturday evening by a large oak tree. Neighbors said the two men, Ovadia Mussaffi and Lawrence Krause, both had young children. The tree fell from Mr. Krause’s yard.
Etti Schaap, 54, who lives across the street, said she heard “a very loud thud” just before 7 p.m. on Saturday. She rushed out to find her next-door neighbor uninjured in his car, which had been damaged by the tree. He told her that he had been backing out of his driveway when the tree came down.
“He saw two people next to him, and then he didn’t see them anymore,” she said. “If they had left five seconds before or five seconds later, it wouldn’t have happened.”
On Long Island, Julia Hughes, 73, of Brooklyn, was struck and killed by a tree as she left a family party in Bay Shore. In Westport, Conn., a woman was killed when a tree limb struck her vehicle. A woman walking in Greenwich, Conn., was killed by a falling tree. And in Hartsdale, in Westchester County, Brendan McGrath, 58, died when a fallen tree crushed his car, which then caught fire. His wife, Mary, also 58, escaped serious injury.
There was no storm-related loss of life reported in New York City, but the damage was evident.
In the Midwood section of Brooklyn, a block of East 13th Street remained closed Sunday afternoon, as residents waited for the city to clear a giant silver maple tree that had come down, crushing four cars. Utility lines littered the street.
Rudy and Danielle Gerestan, a married couple in their late 20s, woke up Sunday to find a utility pole suspended in a sling of tangling wires between their car and another on East 13th Street.
“I’m just lucky it didn’t come down on the car,” Mr. Gerestan said.
Along 104th Street in the Hamilton Beach neighborhood of Queens, nine power lines went down late Saturday. The street remained closed, and several blocks had no electricity. The headquarters of the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department, a volunteer force, was being powered by a generator Sunday.
The area, which is surrounded by water, floods frequently; about six blocks were severely flooded on Sunday, with water up to four feet deep, said Lynell Horry, a lieutenant with the West Hamilton Beach Fire Department.
“It’s been the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Firefighter Alex Razumov, who lives nearby in Lindenwood.
Con Edison reported that 167,000 customers in the city and Westchester County lost power at some point during the storm. By Sunday morning, 138,000 still had no power, with 72,000 of those in Westchester, 32,000 on Staten Island, and a total of 34,000 in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
Connecticut Light and Power reported more than 63,000 customers without power as of 9 p.m. Sunday.
In New Jersey, about 148,000 homes had no electricity. Of those, more than 92,000 were in Bergen County. Residents of about a dozen towns in Bergen and northern Hudson Counties were being advised to boil tap water because the power loss had affected water treatment plants.
The area’s highways and commuter train service had been mostly restored to full service by Sunday afternoon, but not before numerous horror stories unfolded — including a New Jersey Transit train that was stuck for more than six hours on Saturday evening.
Senator Charles E. Schumer said cities and states in the region, already stretched thin by record snowfalls, would need federal help for the cleanup. He asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to dispatch damage assessment teams to the area.
In Scarsdale, Stephen Lambert was not happy thinking about spending thousands of dollars to remove the 70-foot pine tree that had fallen on his driveway. Then he got a call from a neighbor, Tony Grimaldi, saying, “We can do this.”
“I said, ‘All right. You’re on,’ ” recalled Mr. Lambert, 52. “Before we knew it, it was like an old-fashioned barn raising.”

Storm leaves Northeast soggy, windblown and dark

The Associated Press, March. 14, 2010

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Utility crews pushed through fallen trees and windblown debris to reach downed power lines Sunday, working to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses after strong winds and heavy rain wreaked havoc in parts of the Northeast.

The storm, which battered parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut on Saturday with gusts of up to 70 mph, struck about two weeks after heavy snow and hurricane-force winds left more than a million customers in the Northeast in the dark. More than a half-million customers in the region lost electricity at the peak of Saturday's storm, and more than 485,000 were waiting for power to be restored Sunday morning.

Traveling was problematic on the rails and in the air. More than 500 passengers on a New Jersey Transit train were stranded for six to seven hours because of power supply problems, spokesman Dan Stessel said Sunday. Amtrak service between Philadelphia and New York was suspended for hours before limited service was restored, spokesman Cliff Cole said.

Lois Glassman, 62, of Manhattan boarded an Amtrak Acela train in Washington D.C. at around 4 p.m. Saturday. The train traveled seamlessly through Philadelphia but slowed outside a station in Edison, N.J., at about 6:30 p.m. Then the waiting began.

The conductor on the train kept the passengers updated, Glassman said, first blaming switching problem and power issues. The train didn't begin making its way toward New York until after 11 p.m., Glassman said.

"I've had a weary day," Glassman said.

Flights at Newark Liberty International Airport were delayed by as many as four hours Saturday, and some flights bound for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport had to be redirected to Boston's Logan International Airport.

At the storm's peak, more than 265,000 customers in the New York City area and 235,000 customers in New Jersey were without power. The Philadelphia area reported 70,000 customers without electricity, while more than 80,000 customers in Connecticut sat in the dark.

In Uniondale, N.Y., the aging Nassau Coliseum lost three pieces of its aluminum facade about 90 minutes before the start of the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders National Hockey League game.

In Atlantic City, the horizontal arm of a boom crane plunged 47 floors at the Revel Casino construction site. Debris went flying and crashed through the driver's side window of a police cruiser; the officer suffered minor injuries.

One person was killed and three others were injured in Westport, Conn., after a tree fell on a car Saturday night during the storm, police said.
Police in the New York City suburb of Teaneck were investigating whether two people found dead Saturday night were killed by a falling tree. The tree took down power lines as it fell. Chief Robert Wilson told The Record of Bergen County that police believe the two were walking on the sidewalk.

Two condominium complexes near the construction site were evacuated and several area roads were briefly closed. A shelter was set up at the Atlantic City Convention Center. The wind also caused at least two homes to collapse and damaged other homes and buildings.

"This is not where I expected to be tonight," said Jerome Martin, who was evacuated from his nearby condo to the Atlantic City Convention Center. "I'd rather be in my home, but that's not going to happen."

Martin said he was told it could be days before he could return home.

Pittsburgh had braced for what meteorologists were calling the worst potential for flooding since remnants of Hurricane Ivan swept through the city in September 2004. Officials worried that a forecast of warm weather and several days of rain would cause deep snow in the mountains to melt, prompting rivers to swell.

But officials downgraded some of their river crest projections Saturday in western Pennsylvania as rainfall appeared to be less than was projected.

Flood warnings were issued for rivers in northern Jersey, including the Ramapo River at Mahwah and Saddle River at Lodi, where minor to moderate flooding was expected Saturday night and Sunday. A coastal flood advisory was in effect for the Jersey Shore.

At least 4 inches of rain fell Saturday in parts of New Jersey, and an additional 1 to 2 inches was expected through early Sunday.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.