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New storm bears down on Sandy-battered New York, New Jersey

By COLLEEN LONG and FRANK ELTMAN Published: November 8, 2012
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A nor'easter blustered into New York and New Jersey on Wednesday with rain and wet snow, plunging homes right back into darkness and inflicting another round of misery on thousands of people still reeling from Superstorm Sandy.

Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn't be a big deal, but large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound, with the electrical system highly fragile and many of Sandy's victims still mucking out their homes and cars and shivering in the deepening cold.

As the nor'easter closed in, thousands of people in low-lying neighborhoods staggered by the superstorm just over a week ago were urged to clear out. Authorities warned that rain and 60 mph gusts in the evening and overnight could swamp homes all over again, topple trees wrenched loose by Sandy, and erase some of the hard-won progress made in restoring power to millions of customers.

“I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. “We may take a setback in the next 24 hours.”

Exactly as authorities feared, the storm brought down tree limbs and electrical wires, and utilities in New York and New Jersey reported that some customers who lost power because of Sandy lost it all over again as a result of the nor'easter.

“I know everyone's patience is wearing thin,” said John Miksad, senior vice president of electric operations at Consolidated Edison, the chief utility in New York City.

Ahead of the storm, public works crews in New Jersey built up dunes to protect the stripped and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities already emptied by Sandy. New shelters opened.

In New York City, police went to low-lying neighborhoods with loudspeakers, urging residents to leave. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn't issue mandatory evacuations, and many people stayed behind, some because they feared looting, others because they figured whatever happens couldn't be any worse than what they have gone through already.

“We're petrified,” said James Alexander, a resident of the hard-hit Rockaways section of Queens. “It's like a sequel to a horror movie.” Nevertheless, he said he was staying to watch over his house and his neighbors.

All construction in New York City was halted — a precaution that needed no explanation after a crane collapsed last week in Sandy's high winds and dangled menacingly over the streets of Manhattan. Parks were closed because of the danger of falling trees. Drivers were advised to stay off the road after 5 p.m.

Airlines canceled at least 1,300 U.S. flights in and out of the New York metropolitan area, causing a new round of disruptions that rippled across the country.

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