Damage from storm may snarl commutes in Northeast as region copes with flooding, power outages

By Bruce Shipkowski, AP
Monday, March 15, 2010

Damage from storm may snarl commutes in Northeast

EGG HARBOR CITY, N.J. — A torrential rainstorm that brought heavy winds to the Northeast is weakening as it moves north, but the damage and flooding left in its wake might keep some people from their homes for days and cause headaches for Monday’s commute.

At least seven people died in storm-related accidents over the weekend, and nearly half a million people were without electricity in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut at the peak of the storm. Some in the Philadelphia area may have to wait until Monday for power to be restored, said Fred Maher, a spokesman for electric company PECO.

Authorities warned that the storm could cause rush-hour delays on Monday morning. The Long Island Railroad said flooding near an East River tunnel could delay or cancel trains and advised commuters to leave up to half an hour of extra travel time. Dozens of roads in New York were blocked by fallen limbs and wires, Gov. David Paterson said. And in Boston, the transit authority shut down stretches of the Green and Red rail lines because of rising water.

In the New York-New Jersey area, airlines reported delays and scattered cancellations. JetBlue canceled about 150 flights, mostly in the Northeast, spokeswoman Alison Croyle said.

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.”

About 400 Atlantic City, N.J., residents remained displaced for a second day Sunday as crews tried to take down a crane that snapped and twisted at the Revel Entertainment casino construction site, sending debris crashing through a window of a police cruiser. No one was hurt.

Residents in a condominium complex and two apartment buildings near the site were ordered to leave their homes. They 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.

In Manhattan, Broadway’s sidewalks and trash cans were littered with hundreds of shattered umbrellas.

“Last night was wicked,” said Ron Recoskie, heading out for brunch and shopping on the Upper West Side. “I’ve never seen so many umbrellas on the street.”

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.

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.

And 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.

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews in New York and Samantha Henry in Bound Brook, N.J., contributed to this report.

will not be displayed