Northeast US tries to dig out, power up after latest storm

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A man clears snow off of his car on State Street in Danbury, Connecticut, during a snowstorm on March 7, 2018. (Carol Kaliff/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)
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Pedestrians walk along Delancey St. during a snowstorm on March 7, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Northeast US tries to dig out, power up after latest storm

HARTFORD, US: Residents in the US Northeast dug out from as much as 2 feet of wet, heavy snow Thursday, while utilities dealt with downed trees and power lines that snarled traffic and left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the dark after two strong nor’easters — all with the possibility of another storm headed to the area.
With many schools closed for a second day, forecasters tracked the possibility of another late-season snowstorm to run up the coast early next week.
“The strength of it and how close it comes to the coast will make all the difference. At this point it’s too early to say,” said Jim Nodchey, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Massachusetts. “We’re just looking at a chance.”
Snow still was falling Thursday in places including Vermont, where storm warnings were in effect until the evening.
Police say an 88-year-old woman has been killed by a tree that fell and crushed her as she shoveled snow in the New York City suburbs.
Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn told the Journal News that Barbara Suleski was injured around 5 p.m. Wednesday and died at a hospital.
Neighbors were trying to help her when police arrived. Live wires wrapped around the tree made the rescue more difficult.
More than 800,000 customers were without power in the Northeast, including some who have been without electricity since last Friday’s destructive nor’easter. Thousands of flights across the region were canceled, and traveling on the ground was treacherous.
A train carrying more than 100 passengers derailed in Wilmington, Massachusetts, after a fallen tree branch got wedged in a rail switch. Nobody was hurt. Tory Mazzola, a spokesman for Keolis Commuter Services, which runs the system for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said the low-speed derailment remains under investigation.
In New Hampshire, Interstate 95 in Portsmouth was closed in both directions because of downed power lines, leaving traffic at a standstill for hours.
Amtrak restored modified service between New York City and Boston on Thursday after suspending it because of the storm. New York City’s Metro-North commuter railroad, which had suspended service on lines connecting the city to its northern suburbs and Connecticut because of downed trees, restored partial service Thursday.
In Wells, Maine, the Maine Diner remained open even though much of the town was without power after the storm dumped a foot-and-a-half of snow.
“If people are going to lose power, then they need some place to go. We do everything we can to stay open and provide that service,” said Jim MacNeill, the restaurant’s general manager.
Steve Marchillo, a finance director at the University of Connecticut’s Hartford branch, said he enjoyed the sight of heavily snow-laden trees on his way into work Thursday but they also made him nervous.
“It looks cool as long as they don’t fall down on you and you don’t lose power,” he said.
The Mount Snow ski area in Dover, Vermont, received 31 inches of snow by Thursday morning with more still falling. The resort said the snowfall from the past two storms would set it up for skiing through the middle of April.
Montville, New Jersey, got more than 26 inches from Wednesday’s nor’easter. North Adams, Massachusetts, registered 24 inches, and Sloatsburg, New York, got 26 inches.
Major cities along the Interstate 95 corridor saw much less. Philadelphia International Airport recorded about 6 inches, while New York City’s Central Park saw less than 3 inches.
The storm was not as severe as the nor’easter that toppled trees, flooded coastal communities and caused more than 2 million power outages from Virginia to Maine last Friday.
It still proved to be a headache for the tens of thousands of customers still in the dark from the earlier storm — and for the crews trying to restore power to them. Eversource, an electric utility serving Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, said it could take several days to restore power for everyone due partly to the challenge of clearing storm debris and repairing damage.
Massachusetts was hardest hit by outages, with more than 345,000 utility customers losing service Thursday. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker shut down all non-essential state offices.
In Maine, Republican Gov. Paul LePage also closed state offices and encouraged residents to stay off roads “unless it is an absolute emergency.”
In New Jersey, the state’s major utilities reported more than 247,000 customers without power a day after the storm.
An 88-year-old woman in the New York City suburb of Suffern was crushed to death by a tree that fell as she shoveled snow Wednesday afternoon, Police Chief Clarke Osborn old the Journal News.
In North White Plains, New York, 10 people were taken to hospitals with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning after running a generator inside a home, police said. All were expected to survive.
In Manchester Township, New Jersey, police said a teacher was struck by lightning while holding an umbrella on bus duty outside a school. The woman felt a tingling sensation but didn’t lose consciousness. She was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.


Italy defiant as migrant ship stranded in Mediterranean

Updated 40 min 59 sec ago
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Italy defiant as migrant ship stranded in Mediterranean

ROME: Italy defiantly declared Saturday that its ports were closed to foreign-flagged rescue ships as German charity vessel Lifeline lay off the coast of Malta in limbo with more than 230 migrants aboard.
Malta — which is also refusing to take in the boat in a new diplomatic standoff with Italy — nevertheless said it had sent in humanitarian supplies.
“The Lifeline, an illegal ship with 239 immigrants on board is in Maltese waters,” Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini wrote on Facebook.
“These boats can forget about reaching Italy, I want to stop the business of trafficking and mafia.”
Salvini’s tough talk came on the eve of a emergency mini-summit in Brussels to address the divisive issue of how the EU can tackle the renewed influx of migrants and refugees seeking a new life in Europe.
Just three weeks in office, Italy’s new populist government is digging its heels in on campaign promises to stop the influx of migrants, threatening to seize rescue ships or barring them from its ports.
The crisis has also caused ructions in Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a rebellion from her coalition allies over her policies.
Meanwhile, more than 400 migrants were rescued in three operations off the coast of Spain on Saturday, just days after Madrid took in the more than 600 rejected by Italy and Malta.
And the Libyan navy said five people died and nearly 200 were rescued off its coast while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
The Italian government has said both the Lifeline, run by German NGO Mission Lifeline, and another ship Seefuchs, run by another German charity Sea-Eye, — would be seized and directed to Italian ports for investigation “into their legal status.”
Rome accuses the Lifeline of having acted in contravention of international law by taking on board migrants while the Libyan coast guard was intervening.
Earlier this month Salvini triggered an EU-wide row when he barred the French charity-run Aquarius rescue ship, carrying 630 migrants, from docking in Italy.
Malta also refused to take it in and the ship was later welcomed by Spain.
Salvini said Friday that Malta should open its ports to the Lifeline, adding: “Clearly, the boat should immediately be impounded and its crew arrested.”
But Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the Lifeline “broke rules” by ignoring Italy’s directions and should move toward its original destination “to prevent escalation.”
“Despite having no responsibility #Malta just provided humanitarian supplies” while its armed forces carried out the medical evacuation of one passenger, he said.
As the two neighbors squabbled, a Danish cargo ship carrying 113 migrants was stationed near the Sicilian port of Pozzallo waiting for instructions from Italy.
The Alexander Maersk changed course after picking up a distress call Friday, a spokesman for Maersk Line said, without specifying where the migrtants were rescued.
Mission Lifeline denied Italy’s accusations regarding the rescue in Libyan waters, saying it was the best equipped vessel to help.
“We are waiting for a diplomatic solution, discussions are under way between different states to host the Lifeline and those rescued,” the organization’s representative in Germany, Axel Steier, told AFP.
Steier said 14 women and four children were among those on board.
The issue of migration was thrust to the forefront of the EU agenda after Italy turned away the Aquarius.
But the Aquarius defiantly vowed to continue its work and an AFP photographer on board said Saturday that it was currently responding to distress call in Tunisian waters.
Italy hard-line stance comes at a time of deep EU tensions on immigration.
Sunday’s mini-summit is supposed to prepare for a full summit next week, where 28 EU leaders will discuss plans to overhaul the bloc’s asylum system, which has been under severe pressure since the migration crisis exploded in 2015.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel — facing a ferocious political backlash for letting in over one million asylum seekers into Europe’s biggest economy — played down expectations of a quick solution.
“We know that no solution will be reached on Thursday and Friday at the level of the 28 member states... on the overall issue of migration,” she said on a visit to Lebanon.
Instead, she said, “bilateral, trilateral and multilateral” deals must be reached to tackle the issue.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned Monday he would give Merkel a fortnight to find a European deal to curb new arrivals, failing which he vowed to order border police to turn back migrants.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis also said Friday he was ready to start turning away migrants if Berlin and Vienna did so.