NEW YORK – A nor’easter blustered into New York and New Jersey on Wednesday with rain and wet snow, plunging homes right back into darkness, stopping commuter trains again and inflicting another round of misery on thousands of people still reeling from Superstorm Sandy’s blow more than a week ago.
Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn’t cause major problems, but large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound, with the electrical system highly fragile and many of Sandy’s victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold.
Exactly 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 nor’easter.
Mark L. Fendrick, of Staten Island, tweeted Wednesday night: “My son had just got his power back 2 days ago now along comes this nor’easter and it’s out again.”
As the nor’easter closed in, thousands of people in low-lying neighborhoods staggered by the superstorm just over a week ago were urged to clear out. Authorities warned that rain and 60 mph gusts in the evening and overnight could topple trees wrenched loose by Sandy and erase some of the hard-won progress made in restoring power to millions of customers.
“I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. “We may take a setback in the next 24 hours.”
Ahead of the storm, public works crews in New Jersey built up dunes to protect the stripped and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities already emptied by Sandy. New shelters opened.
All construction in New York City was halted – a precaution that needed no explanation after a crane collapsed last week in Sandy’s high winds and dangled menacingly over the streets of Manhattan. Parks were closed because of the danger of falling trees. A section of the Long Island Expressway was closed in both directions because of icy conditions.
Airlines canceled at least 1,300 U.S. flights in and out of the New York metropolitan area, causing a new round of disruptions that rippled across the country.
Forecasters said the nor’easter would bring moderate coastal flooding, with storm surges of about 3 feet possible Wednesday into today – far less than the 8 to 14 feet Sandy hurled at the region. The storm’s winds were expected to be well below Sandy’s, which gusted to 90 mph.
By evening, the storm had created a slushy mess in the streets in the metropolitan area. Eight-foot waves crashed on the beaches in New Jersey, which was lashed with a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow. The Long Island Rail Road, one of the nation’s biggest commuter train systems, suspended all service again after struggling over the past several days to get up and running in Sandy’s wake.
The early-afternoon high tide came and went without any reports of serious flooding in New York City, the mayor said. The next high tide was early today. But forecasters said the moment of maximum flood danger may have passed.
Consolidated Edison, the chief utility in 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.
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