Nor’easter slows recovery from Sandy
WEST CALDWELL, N.J. — The nor’easter that swept through the Northeast on Wednesday night dumped record snow, hampered efforts to recover from Superstorm Sandy and has been linked to at least one death.
From New Jersey to New York, roads, trees and homes were blanketed in overnight snow and another 100,000 households lost power, adding to the misery in a region still grappling with widespread storm damage.
The bad weather and white-out conditions prompted major airlines to cancel hundreds of flights, most in the New York area, although airports in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere are affected, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.
Parts of Connecticut saw more than a foot of snow overnight — a record — while New Jersey and New York saw up to 9 inches in some cities.
Late Wednesday, a man was killed in a fatal crash on a highway in Burlington, N.J., according to State Police Sgt. Adam Grossman.
Grossman said there were no reports of other injuries Thursday or of backups on the highways, which were cleared of overnight snow accumulation that had led to multiple spin-outs, including a New Jersey transit bus that was marooned in a median of the Garden State Parkway.
“The state and the residents are still trying to clean up and get back to normal life,” Grossman said.
The snow and frigid temperatures intensified suffering in hard-hit Sandy towns, including Little Egg Harbor, N.J., where mountains of debris stood frozen in front of storm-damaged homes.
“My concern is that people who were already suffering are now suffering greatly,” Police Chief Richard Buzby said of the nor’easter that cause some flooding to Little Egg Harbor. “Some of the people had clothing in their yards they were trying to dry; they are now more sodden. Some of the materials they got out, the insulation and so forth, is now much heavier. We didn’t need this on top of everything else.”
“We have been fighting to get these massive piles out of the streets so we could get utility crews in here,” Buzby said. “But the storm hit us before we could get to many more areas.”
He said the nearby barrier island community of Long Beach Island was also damaged by the new storm.
“I think they lost more beaches, if that’s possible. Like us, it was another kick they didn’t need,” he said.
Buzby, whose own home flooded during Sandy, said he and others have had trouble getting FEMA inspectors to survey their homes. He has been trying to get FEMA to open a permanent disaster assistance center in town — the nearest one is in Brick, about 40 miles north, and it was closed Wednesday because of the nor’easter.
“Folks need a permanent face here, and so far it’s been inconsistent and spotty. I don’t know where to take a resident for help. They need a point of contact — that will help empower them,” Buzby said. “People need to have leadership and hope from their government.”
On Thursday, Buzby was helping to relocate about 180 people displaced by Sandy from a local middle school to a church building in nearby Stafford township, where they can stay for a few weeks.
Elsewhere, other storm victims were relocated from school shelters as officials prepared to resume classes, moving evacuees from Monmouth University’s massive 1,000-bed shelter a few miles north to Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport.
“That’s our big problem with transitional housing — we don’t have any,” Buzby said.
The local hotels are all full, and other temporary housing on a nearby barrier island was destroyed by Sandy.
In Brick township, which evacuated waterfront areas and Sandy-damaged homes ahead of the nor’easter, the snow storm caused new outages and downed power lines Thursday, but no injuries or major damages, Sgt. Keith Reinhard said.
He said officials planned to start allowing evacuees to return after they finish checking neighborhoods late Thursday.
Snowstorms are unusual but not unheard of in New Jersey at this time of year — last year a Halloween nor’easter dumped 19 inches of snow on one North Jersey town.
“The snow kind of caught everybody off guard. All the heavy equipment that usually has the plows on was dealing with the hurricane so they had to scramble,” Reinhard said.
About 30 miles to the north, the nor’easter spared the waterfront town of Sea Bright from serious damage and recovery efforts were underway again Thursday, according to Danny Drogin, the town’s emergency management director.
He said that the town saw some flooding typical of a seasonal storm, but that dunes that contractors had reinforced on the beaches ahead of the storm held.
“We’re going to wait and see what happens with the high tide this afternoon,” he said.
The New Jersey National Guard was setting up a mobile kitchen in town, and Drogin requested they stay for a few weeks “so that when the residents come back they’ll have food to eat.”
Most of the restaurants in town have flooded, front windows smashed by the storm, storefronts filled with debris.
“We’re hoping Monday they’ll let residents come back to board up their homes and take valuables,” Drogin said.
But before residents can return for good, their homes will need safety inspections and utilities restored, which could take weeks, he said.
The New Jersey National Guard had removed soldiers from the state’s barrier islands ahead of the storm, but they were returning Thursday, according to spokesman Wayne Woolley.
“I’m not hearing reports of a lot of additional extensive damage,” he said. “It didn’t undo a lot of the work that was done” to shore up the islands, he said.
He said the guard planned to launch four helicopters Friday so that transportation and utility officials could assess the impact of the storm.
About 38 percent of New York’s gas stations have no gas to sell, the Energy Information Administration estimated.
Two New Jersey oil refineries remain closed along with eight oil terminals.