US digs out of northeast snow

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NEW YORK: Millions of American commuters braved miserable conditions across the East coast on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) after a fierce storm dumped almost a foot of snow from the Mid-Atlantic to New England.

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Federal government stumbled and slipped back to work as bitter wind chills kept temperatures 10 to 25 degrees below average with hundreds of flights canceled and roads still icy.

Wednesday saw little of the snow that had blanketed the region overnight, but fierce winds and biting temperatures prolonged the suffering, and many schools and offices remained shut.

In New York, the mercury would not rise beyond 14 Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius) but bone-chilling gusts made it feel as low as -13 Fahrenheit, the National Weather Service said.

Schools in the city were open and most subway lines ran smoothly but new mayor Bill de Blasio was roasted in the press for bungling the second winter storm of his less than four-week administration.

When the 10 inches of snow began falling earlier than expected Tuesday, residents complained that road crews were too slow to mobilize, causing a string of accidents and traffic gridlock.

“I can’t believe de Blasio could do this. He is putting everyone in danger,” Barbara Tamerin, 70, was quoted as telling The New York Post on the well-heeled Upper East Side.

“What is he thinking? I can barely get around—and I’m on snowshoes!”

For others, Central Park was a joyful winter wonderland.

Tatia, a baby-sitter, was taking her two charges sledging.

“I’m gonna take them up the hill and I’m gonna sit them down…and I’ll sled them down and then we’re gonna try to make a snowman,” she told Agence France-Presse. “We just try to have fun in the snow!”

In Washington, D.C., it was back to work for the federal government, which told civil servants—who already had Monday off for the Martin Luther King holiday—to stay at home on Tuesday.

Federal agencies opened two hours late and employees were also permitted to take unscheduled leave. Those that were able were allowed to work from home.

Most area schools, in the city and neighboring Maryland and Virginia, were to remain closed again on Wednesday.

The commute was slow, the glare of the sunshine combined with sand and salt on the roads mucking up windshields, making visibility poor and causing drivers to pull over on the highway.

Chicago residential areas were still digging out Wednesday after being dumped with six to 12 inches of snow, canceling hundreds of flights and slowing trains, an Agence France-Presse reporter said.

In total, the governors of three states—Delaware, New Jersey and New York—declared states of emergency.

Philadelphia recorded up to 14 inches of snow on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

FlightAware, a website that monitors air traffic in real time, said more than 1,500 flights into, out of or within the United States had been canceled on Wednesday and nearly 2,000 delayed.

National rail company Amtrak said it would operate “a modified schedule” on its Northeast Corridor line between Washington and Boston, as well as on two other routes in the hard-hit region.

New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who is battling allegations that his office bullied political foes, also canceled a gala on Ellis Island in New York Harbor to mark the start of his new term.

AFP

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