Thousands Still Without Power, Three Days After Freak Storm

Many households just got back on their feet after Hurricane Irene.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Frustration with power outages after the October snowstorm is getting worse, especially in Connecticut, where communities were especially hard-hit. Roseanne Colletti reports.

    Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power three days after a freak October snowstorm, and many of them just got back on their feet after Hurricane Irene ripped through the tri-state.

    A number of schools have already announced plans to cancel classes for a third day on Wednesday. See the latest closings here.

    To ward off the cold, some families have huddled under blankets and winter coats at home while others waited out the crisis in shelters, where meals and sometimes even movies were available.

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    Live wires are causing a very dangerous situation in communities across the tri-state area. John Noel reports from Rockland County.

    The storm dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in some places, but the main concern has been how the weight of the precipitation downed so many trees, pulling down power lines and creating major cleanup problems. 

    On Tuesday, New Jersey had more than 130,000 customers without power, New York state had nearly 70,000 and Connecticut had more than 655,000 in the dark.

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    The frustration of captain of a Newark-bound JetBlue flight that was stuck in Connecticut this weekend is heard in audio communication made public Monday. The October snow storm stranded people for hours in planes without water or working bathrooms, including on a JetBlue plane at Bradley Airport this weekend. Shiba Russell has more.

    The storm clobbered many communities still recovering from the flooding two months ago caused by Hurricane Irene, leaving weary homeowners exhausted and demoralized.

    In parts of New Jersey, residents said they had only been able to return to their homes over the past two weeks. Several families spoke of just having done their first major food shopping since before Irene — food that was quickly rotting in freezers without power.

    Dave Sisco's SUV was parked at an angle in his driveway Monday so a patch of sun fell on his face. He was trying to find a spot warm enough for a nap after a cold sleepless night.

    "It's terrible, very terrible. No power. No gas. Food in the refrigerator is no good. Sleeping in 27 degrees, and we're still not recovered from the flood, the house is still a wreck. Trees are still down in the backyard, our gazebo is smashed," said Sisco, a 58-year-old who lives in Pompton Lakes, N.J.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his family were among those who lost power over the weekend.

    Christie said he expected 95 percent of the 338,000 customers in New Jersey without electricity to have it back by Thursday.

    "I know if you are without power today, Thursday seems like a long time from now," he said. "I understand that all this information, if you are someone who doesn't have power, is just talk until the lights go back on and the heat goes back on in your house."

    Some town officials worried the cleanup would stretch depleted budgets to the breaking point.

    "There's no question that most municipal budgets are past bending and into breaking," said William Steinhaus, the top elected of official in Dutchess County, in New York's Hudson Valley, which got nearly 2 feet of snow. "Whether it's fuel money or overtime money or salt and sand material items, those line items are all stretched or broke at this point."

    Judd Everhart, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said the agency spent more than $2 million of its $26 million snow-removal budget on keeping state roads clear during the storm.

    Scott Heck, borough manager and public works director for Ringwood, N.J., where hundreds of trees were toppled, said "no communities budget for any kind of storm this early" and the costs would definitely affect his budget.

    "Normally you come in and plow the snow, but now you have to plow to get to the trees, clear the trees, come back to do more plowing and then clear away all the debris," Heck said.

    In some places, commuters who were able to get on the roads were forced to hunt for open gas stations after power outages knocked out the pumps. At a 7-Eleven in Hartford, Conn., two dozen cars waited in a line that stretched into the street and disrupted traffic.

    "There's no gas anywhere," said Debra Palmisano of Plainville, Conn. "It's like we're in a war zone. It's pretty scary, actually."

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