East Coast Commuters Slop Through Snow Amid Dig-Out; Blizzard Death Toll Rises to 41 - NBC Chicago
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East Coast Commuters Slop Through Snow Amid Dig-Out; Blizzard Death Toll Rises to 41

At least 41 people died as a result of the storm; the deaths occurred in car accidents, from carbon monoxide poisoning, and from heart attacks while shoveling snow

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    NEWSLETTERS

    #PlowQueens: Queens Fumes Over Snowy, Uncleared Streets

    Queens was one of the hardest hit boroughs during the weekend's blizzard, with 30 inches of snow in some neighborhoods. But a lot of the white stuff still remains on the streets, and residents are fuming. Katherine Creag reports. (Published Monday, Jan. 25, 2016)

    East Coast residents clobbered by the weekend blizzard trudged into the workweek Monday amid slippery roads, spotty transit service and mounds of snow that buried cars and blocked sidewalks after some cities got an entire winter's snow in two days.

    The death toll from the storm that battered the East Coast rose to 41 on Monday. Deaths occurred in 13 states and were attributed largely to shoveling-related heart attacks, car accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning. In New Jersey, a carbon monoxide from a blocked tailpipe killed a woman and her 1-year-old son and left her 3-year-old daughter in critical condition. The children's father was steps away shoveling out the car, authorities said Sunday.

    Closed schools and shuttered government offices thwarted the start of the week for many. The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England, with near-record snowfalls tallied from Washington, D.C. to New York City.

    Still, for many, Monday brought signs of normalcy.

    In Brooklyn, only one teacher at the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School called out, despite more than two feet of snow across New York City.

    "A lot of teachers are taking the train instead of driving," said Wanda Morales, director of operations at the school, standing outside while maintenance workers spread salt and parents dropped off their children.

    In Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, shops were open, and main roadways were mostly cleared, dotted with large piles of snow. Matthew Mason, 29, was riding the train into Washington to go to his job at a hotel. The part-time law student said he figured he should be there, though things would likely be a little slower.

    "I've sat in my house too much already," he said.

    Dave Lenowitz was perched on a snowbank in Philadelphia near what's normally the stop for the bus that takes him to his job as the director of a nonprofit.

    "Normally I bicycle, but it's a little too slippery," he said. "There's not enough snow, otherwise I'd ski. It's only seven miles."

    Flying remained particularly messy after airlines canceled nearly 12,000 weekend flights and hundreds more Monday. Airports resumed limited service in New York City, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In the Washington area, Reagan National Airport saw its first flights Monday, and Dulles International Airport expected to resume flights late in the day. But delays reverberated around the country.

    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was on a rescheduled pre-dawn flight from Springfield, Illinois, to Chicago while on the way to Washington on Monday morning. The Illinois Democrat said he's been through this before.

    "Most of us who spend part of our lives in Washington know to expect the worst when it comes to snow," he said. "I knew the forecast was enough to cause a problem."

    Tom Aloi, who works in construction management, was at Chicago O'Hare trying to get back to New York City after a business trip to Germany. His rescheduled fight to Newark Liberty was already delayed several hours.

    "Yes, we are frustrated. We are aggravated," Aloi said. "It's a ripple effect. It affects the whole world."

    Amtrak operated a reduced number of trains on all its routes, serving many people who couldn't get around otherwise, spokesman Marc Magliari said. But bus and rail service was expected to be limited around the region into Monday.

    The snow began Friday, and the last flakes fell just before midnight Saturday. In its aftermath, crews raced all day Sunday to clear streets and sidewalks devoid of their usual bustle.

    Sunday's brilliant sunshine and gently rising temperatures provided a respite from the blizzard that dropped a record 29.2 inches on Baltimore. The weekend timing could not have been better, enabling many to enjoy a gorgeous winter day.

    It was just right for a huge snowball fight in Baltimore, where more than 600 people responded to organizer Aaron Brazell's invite on Facebook.

    "I knew people would be cooped up in their houses and wanting to come outside," said Brazell, who was beaned by multiple blasts of perfectly soft but firm snow.

    But one day of sunshine wasn't enough to clear many roads. Cars parked in neighborhoods were encased in snow, some of it pushed from the streets by plows. In downtown Philadelphia, some sidewalk entrances were blocked by mounds of snow.

    New York Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged people to leave their plowed-in cars all week after a one-day record of 26.6 inches fell in Central Park.

    That advice came too late for Bob Raldiris, who tried shoveling his Nissan Maxima out of a spot in Ridgewood, Queens, before passing plows and trucks spoiled his labor. "This is terrible," he said, pointing to a pile of snow three feet high.

    In Queens, which got hit with with 30 inches of snow in some neighborhoods, residents were fuming Monday, as a lot of the snow still remained on the streets. 

    In Woodhaven, a man was trying to dig his car out of the snow Monday at 2 a.m. He had been there since 10 p.m.

    "If you ask me they could have done a better job with it," the man said.

    Federal, D.C., Maryland and Virginia government offices will be closed Monday to allow blizzard cleanup to continue. Schools from Washington to the Jersey Shore gave students Monday off; In the D.C. suburbs, classes also were canceled for Tuesday.

    Things were especially bad in Newark, where one commuter described the “majority” of city streets as being covered in snow on Sunday, with some streets completely impassable, NBC New York reported. Twenty-eight inches of snow that buried the city forced schools to close Monday and residents to wonder how they’re going to travel to work.

    New York's transit authority said partial service on the Long Island Rail Road was restored on three of its 12 branches and diesel train service was operating on three other branches. New York City subways, buses and Metro-North Railroad service were operating on a normal schedule.

    Broadway reopened after going dark at the last minute during the snowstorm, but museums remained closed in Washington, and the House of Representatives postponed votes until February, citing the storm's impact on travel.

    Overall snowfall of 26.8 inches in Central Park made it New York's second biggest winter storm since records began in 1869, and Saturday's 26.6 inches made for a single-day record in the city. 

    Some of the blizzard's heaviest snow bands wound up over New York City and Long Island, sending snow totals spiking higher than the 12-18 inches forecasters predicted Thursday.

    Washington's records were less clear. The official three-day total of 17.8 inches measured at Reagan National Airport was impossibly short of accumulations recorded elsewhere in the city. An official total of 22.4 inches landed at the National Zoo, for example.

    The zoo remained closed through Monday but a video of its giant panda Tian Tian making snow angels got more than 48 million views. Joining the fun, Jeffrey Perez, of Millersville, Maryland, climbed into a panda suit and rolled around in the snow, snagging more than half a million views of his own.