Northeast blizzard: Communities seek snow shoveling help

HARTFORD, Conn. - Some snow-weary Northeasterners struggled to get back to their weekly routines Tuesday as roads remained slick from the weekend storm and many schools were closed again, and some communities were asking for volunteers to help shovel out the elderly and disabled.

Many local roads in Connecticut remained partially blocked by snow, especially in the cities. Snow piles have reduced driving lanes, made parking spaces scarce and decreased drivers' sight lines.

Schools in Connecticut, Boston and other Massachusetts towns remained closed Tuesday, and about 49,000 homes and businesses around the region were still waiting for the electricity to come back on after the epic storm swept through on Friday and Saturday with 1 to 3 feet of snow that entombed cars and sealed up driveways.

The storm was blamed for at least 18 deaths in the U.S. and Canada.

In Waterbury, Conn., the mayor encouraged teens and adults looking to make some extra cash to show up at City Hall on Tuesday for snow removal jobs. He said he'll pay them minimum wage to help shovel out the city's schools.

Rhode Islanders were being asked to volunteer to help their elderly and disabled neighbors unable to remove snow from around their homes.

Serve Rhode Island and the United Way of Rhode Island said they especially needed volunteers to clear snow on Tuesday, before freezing temperatures set in overnight and before more snow comes in a storm forecast later this week.

Many areas were also hit with potential danger coming from above -- roofs collapsing from the weight of snow and ice along with recent rainfall.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the number of reported roof collapses across the had grown to at least 16 by early evening on Monday, up from five in the morning. He warned places with flat roofs, like schools, to get them cleared.

"Schools are important resources. Please get somebody up on the roof," Malloy said during an evening briefing in Hartford. "At the very least, make sure that the drains are clear and working. We don't want a tragedy to occur at one of our school buildings."

Police on Long Island evacuated one of the area's biggest malls on Monday because of major roof leaks. The Smith Haven Mall in Suffolk County was cleared by 4 p.m. Monday after significant leaks were detected in more than two dozen stores. Police worried the roof could collapse.

Smithtown Building Department Director John Bongino said that in one of the stores it looked "almost as if there was an open ceiling and it was raining."

Most major highways were cleared by Monday, but the volume of snow was just too much to handle on many secondary roads. A mix of sleet and rain also created new headaches. A 10-mile stretch of Interstate 91 just north of Hartford to Massachusetts was closed briefly because of ice and accidents.

In New York, where hundreds of cars became stuck on the Long Island Expressway on Friday night and early Saturday morning, some motorists vented their anger at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not acting more quickly to shut down major roads, as other governors did, and for not plowing more aggressively.

"There were cars scattered all over the place. They should have just told people in the morning, `Don't bother going in because we're going to close the roads by 3 o'clock.' I think Boston and Connecticut had the right idea telling everybody to stay off the roads," said George Kiriakos, an investment consultant from Bohemia, N.Y.

But roads weren't the only hazard. In Milford, Conn., two people were hospitalized in critical condition after a car struck four pedestrians walking on a street because sidewalks hadn't been cleared of snow.

Cuomo has defended his handling of the crisis and said that more than one-third of all the state's snow-removal equipment had been sent to the area. He said he also wanted to allow people the chance to get home from work.

"People need to act responsibly in these situations," the governor said.

The number of homes and businesses without power was down from a peak at 650,000. More than 46,000 of those still waiting were in Massachusetts.

About 50 residents of Scituate, Mass., remained at a shelter set up at Scituate High School Monday, as much of the town was still without power. That numbers is down from a peak of 150 on Saturday, said Jennifer Sullivan, the town's director of public health.

Richard and Ann Brown, married 65 years, spent the last three nights sleeping on side-by-side cots at the shelter. By Monday afternoon, they were missing the comforts of home.

"It's disrupting when you're older," said Ann Brown, 88. "You've got to be careful to keep your spirits up," she said.

Richard Brown, 89, said they were grateful to be warm and to be given meals at the shelter. But Brown,

who has lived in Scituate for 35 years, said he was hoping the electricity will be restored to their home by Tuesday.

"We don't like this," he said. "I want to go home."

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