Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nor'easter snow falls atop Sandy destruction; new power outages reported

Towns in New Jersey scrambled to prepare for their first major winter storm not long after Hurricane Sandy destroyed huge swaths of coastline. NBC's Katy Tur reports.

By Miguel Llanos, NBC News

Updated at 9:20 p.m. ET: Snow fell on the tops of damaged homes and debris piles in parts of the New York City area as a nor'easter moved in Wednesday, causing new power outages ahead of gusts that could reach 60 mph overnight.

Linemen install a transformer on Nov. 7 to help restore power in the Staten Island community of Oakwood Beach in New York City. The linemen were from Chain Electric, a contract utility crew that drove in from Mississippi to help out.

About 1,200 flights were canceled across the Northeast, while residents of a few areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy last week were urged to evacuate in case of new flooding. Long Island Rail Road service was also suspended before 7 p.m. because of weather-related signal problems, NBC New York reported.

By Wednesday afternoon, the winds had caused some 75,000 new power outages in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the U.S. Energy Department stated. That brought the total number to 715,000, most of those remaining from Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29.New York Mayor Bloomberg directed police to use their patrol car loudspeakers to warn the 20,000 to 30,000 residents in vulnerable areas to evacuate.

One local resident refuses to be driven out by the latest storm, a combo of snow and rain that is threatening areas already ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. NBC's Stephanie Gosk reports.

Those who had weathered Sandy told NBC New York on Wednesday that they were petrified.

"It's like a sequel to a horror movie,"said James Alexander, a resident of the hard-hit Rockaway Peninsula. "Here we are, nine days later — freezing, no electricity, no nothing, waiting for another storm."

Alexander's home was spared when Sandy hit, but homes around him burned to the ground, and the boardwalk near his home was washed out to sea.

The nor'easter, dubbed "Athena" by The Weather Channel, could produce strong gusts that could also turn up piled debris from Sandy into projectiles.

A punishing nor'easter is expected to dump snow  on 
storm-battered New York and New Jersey. NBC's Jay Gray reports.

"One of the bigger concerns ... would be the debris that's been piled up from all the residences and the businesses," Kevin O'Hara, police chief in Point Pleasant, N.J., told The Weather Channel.

(Last month, The Weather Channelannounced it will name noteworthy winter storms in an effort to “better communicate the threat and the timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events.")

"With winds picking up to 30-, 40-, 50-mile-per-hour gusts," he added, "our fear is that if people are out and about they could be hit by flying debris. We would urge people to stay in their houses, stay home, and let the storm pass."

"It's not a massive nor'easter by winter standards," added Weather Channel expert Tom Niziol, "but at this time of year immediately after Sandy's wrath and destruction, this isn't what we want."

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The snow from the latest Nor'easter is expected to continue through midnight before finally winding down in the early hours of Thursday morning. NBC's Janice Huff reports.

Sea Bright, N.J., is among the areas fearing new 
flooding on Wednesday. Katy Tur reports.

"Mother Nature is not cutting us a break along the East Coast," he said.

As the day cooled into night, The Weather Channel was forecasting three inches of snow in Philadelphia with wind gusts over 30 mph, a combination of wet snow and wind in New Jersey, and snowfall totals of six to 12 inches in southeastern New York and New England.

Tuesday evening, Bloomberg ordered three nursing homes and an adult care facility evacuated from Queens' vulnerable Rockaway Peninsula. About 620 residents were moved. In New York, snow was falling Wednesday evening. Mayor Michael Bloomberg expected up to three inches of snow and said no new flooding occurred along the city's coastal areas "through the first and most dangerous cycle of high tide" on Wednesday afternoon.
Volunteers walk through falling snow while bringing food to residents of homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy on Nov. 7 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.
Fearing winds could down more trees, the city also closed all parks, playgrounds and beaches at noon Wednesday, and ordered all construction sites to be secured.

The Long Island Power Authority dedicated more than 12,000 workers to restoring power to its customers -- 8,000 of those workers were linemen and tree trimming crews from around the country, including some who had been airlifted in by the National Guard.

In New Jersey, Brick Township and Middletown ordered mandatory evacuations of the most vulnerable areas.

U.S. Marines work to clean up debris on Nov. 7 in the Staten Island borough of New York City.

Sandy killed more than 100 people, mainly in New York City and New Jersey, and left more than 8 million homes and businesses without power.Airlines cancel flights ahead of nor'easter

John Makely / NBC News
Postal carrier Kenneth Henn delivers mail in the evacuated section of Belmar, N.J., on Tuesday as earth moving machines pile sand along the beach.

Fearing looters, Alex Ocasio told The Associated Press that he planned to ride out the latest storm in his first-floor Rockaway apartment — even after seeing cars float by his front door during Sandy.

As the water receded during Sandy, men dressed in dark clothes broke down the door and were surprised to find him and other residents inside, he said.

"They tried to say they were rescue workers, then took off," he said.

He put up a handmade sign — "Have gun. Will shoot U" — outside his apartment and started using a bed frame to barricade the door. He has gas, so he keeps the oven on and boils water to stay warm at night.

"It gets a little humid, but it's not bad," he said. "I'm staying. Nothing can be worse than what happened last week."

NBC's Isolde Raftery, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Members of the National Guard walk past a house damaged by Sandy as it is painted with an American flag in the New Dorp section of Staten Island, N.Y. on Nov. 6. Voting in the U.S. presidential election is the latest challenge for the hundreds of thousands of people in the New York-New Jersey area still affected by superstorm Sandy.

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