Blizzard’s snow and ice weigh heavily on New Englanders


SCITUATE, Mass. — For much of the Northeast, Sunday was a day to shovel out, thaw out and prepare for the workweek.

But Anne Coppola’s family and dozens of others had just begun to feel the effects of one of the worst storms to pummel New England in decades.

Coppola and her husband, daughter, two cats and dog were among hundreds of people huddled in a high school in Scituate, about 30 miles southeast of Boston. The whole town had lost power and was unlikely to get it back for days.


The family kept warm at home until Sunday morning, Coppola said, when they ran out of wood for their fireplace.

“Today it was only 45” degrees inside the house, she said. “We couldn’t keep the house warm enough. We had to call it quits.”

Elsewhere across the Northeast, more than 200,000 customers remained without power — down from about 650,000 on Saturday — utilities said.

At least 14 people in the U.S. and Canada died in the storm, which dropped up to 3 feet of snow, the Associated Press reported.

In New York, a 27-mile stretch of the Long Island Expressway remained closed a day after vehicles and even snowplows bogged down in the blizzard. Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent more than 400 snowplows and 700 workers to Suffolk County.

“Suffolk County has not seen a winter storm like [this] in years, and the massive amount of snow left behind effectively shut down the entire region,” Cuomo said.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged residents to stay home Monday. All state courts and judicial offices will be closed while cleanup continues, he tweeted.

Airports were operational, although about 450 flights were canceled Sunday. Over the last three days, according to the flight-tracking site, the storm had grounded more than 6,000 flights.

At the Scituate shelter, people lay on green Army cots, reading or staring at the ceiling. Elderly people huddled around cafeteria tables, families milled around with trays carrying Styrofoam plates. Dinner included hamburgers, chicken nuggets, rice and carrots.

Fire Chief Rick Judge estimated that about 200 people would spend Sunday night at the high school, and he knows why from personal experience. Judge went home for a nap earlier in the day. Getting into bed in a house where it’s 38 degrees, he said, “is like jumping into the ocean.”

The blizzard flooded parts of Scituate, carrying rocks and boulders over sea walls, downing huge trees and shellacking houses with ice. Town schools will be closed Monday and are expected to stay that way until power is restored, which could take days.

A few miles away, by the coast, homeowners walked up and down muddy roads to survey damage. The storm had wiped porches off of some houses, and the sea had dropped boulders onto front lawns. The whipping wind of the last few days had been replaced by the hum of generators, the only way people could have power.

Jane Flynn and her family tinkered with a shared generator in her neighbors’ frontyard, hoping that her pipes would thaw if they could warm the house a little more.

The Flynn home, which faces the ocean, was not damaged. But the sea had swept away a lawn she had planted and deposited boulders up and down the walk. High waves had frozen on the ocean side of her house, encasing it in a thick white crust.

Flynn’s family has been coming to Scituate since 1956, and she recently made it her full-time home. In the last decade, she said, the sea has been advancing on her house. But she doesn’t intend to leave.

“It definitely comes, regularly; it’s closer up than it used to be,” she said. “I’m so used to it splashing over when there’s a storm.”

Her neighbor, Joseph Spinzola, was moving his elderly aunt into his home that he warmed with a generator. His house is on stilts, so it was mostly unscathed. But the town told him power won’t be back on for four more days.

“This is probably the worst one we’ve had in a very, very long time as far as the amount of debris and damage,” he said.

Spinzola pointed to the concrete sea wall, cracked from years of storms, and the homes dotting the coast. He’s not going to leave, he said, even though the water has risen “dramatically” over the last 10 years.

“If this was an everyday occurrence, it would be one thing,” he said. “But it’s not. This just goes with the nature of this neighborhood.”

About 15 miles away in Quincy, Dan Spatola was shoveling his sidewalk after spending four hours uncovering his car. He hoped to go to work Monday but had a problem: A snowplow had started on his street but stopped, leaving a mountain of snow blocking the road.

Clearing the street is on the town’s to-do list, he said, “but it might be awhile.”

Chris Carroll, who lives in a hilly area of Quincy that overlooks the bay, was shoveling snow off his roof in anticipation of a Monday rainstorm. Rain weighs down thick snow, which can collapse roofs.

He and his neighbor, Leo W. Keenan Jr., watched as Carroll’s childhood friend plowed the street.

“When you get a storm like this, it’s exciting,” Keenan said. “But then you have to clean up. It’s like a sponge — it absorbs your time and energy and gives nothing back.”

Semuels reported from Massachusetts and Gerber from Los Angeles.