Video: Thousands still without power following snowstorm

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/1/2011 6:54:46 PM ET 2011-11-01T22:54:46

Short tempers and long lines were the order of the day as residents of more than 1.6 million homes in the Northeast remained without power on Tuesday — and some were told it could take 10 more days after the rare and deadly October snowstorm.

A woman in Newington, Conn., threw coffee in another person's face after she said she was cut off in a snaking line of about 40 cars waiting to fill up her vehicle's tank at a gas station.

In the New York City metro area, extreme delays on storm-battered train lines operated by New Jersey Transit forced some commuters to opt instead to drive to work, jamming roadways with hour-long traffic backups.

The power outage crippled traffic lights, causing a rash of fender benders, and knocked out home water wells, leaving toilets out of commission.

In New Hampshire, where at the peak 315,000 households were out of power, people hunkered down in an emergency shelter at Memorial High School in Manchester, sleeping on cots in the gymnasium and in other rooms set up for families.

Image: People in line to buy Kerosene
Jim Michaud  /  The Manchester Journal Inquirer via AP
Customers wait to buy Kerosene in Vernon, Conn., on Monday.

Some people sought refuge at local businesses, like a nearby Panera Bread where Kathie Dinen was camped out, working on her laptop on Tuesday morning.

"There's a tree, right on top of a wire, on my street, right by the school bus stop, and nothing has happened since Sunday," said Dinen, 64, from Bedford.

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"My husband and I went to the YMCA to take a shower. We're not even members ... I went to the front desk and just started bawling."

Hotels in central Connecticut were sold out as residents escaped homes without heat and electricity.

More than 800,000 homes in Connecticut were in the dark at the peak of the storm, prompting Gov. Dannel Malloy to call it the worst power outage in his state's history.

Some residents in northwestern Connecticut were told it might be 10 days or more before lights come back on.

The massive outages continuing on Tuesday include roughly 668,000 customers still without power in Connecticut; about 326,000 in Massachusetts; more than 95,000 in New Jersey; at least 45,000 in Pennsylvania; at least 118,000 in New York; and about 135,000 in New Hampshire.

Authorities blamed the storm for at least 23 deaths, including one in Canada. Most were caused by falling trees, traffic accidents or electrocutions from downed wires.

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

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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.

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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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Timeline: Notable power outages

Photos: October snow?

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