After Storm, Some Northeasterners Still In The Dark

Residents of the northeast are still coping with a weekend storm that was more trick than treat. Schools are closed and utility crews are working overtime to restore power in several states. More than 3 million people were without power immediately after the storm.

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People across the northeast are still huddling under blankets and lighting their houses with candles. Power remains out for more than two million homes and businesses, and it may be several days before they get light and heat back.

As NPR's Tovia Smith reports, the rare October storm has prompted the cancellation of everything from school to Halloween.

TOVIA SMITH: This was not the kind of spooky Halloween anybody here had in mind.

NANCY FARRAR: No, not at all.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: Nancy and Curtis Farrar(ph) of Framingham decked their house with spooky lights, cobwebs and assorted creepy creatures that were supposed to growl at trick or treaters.

FARRAR: House is all decorated. Can't plug it in though.

SMITH: Instead, they and others who lost power, like Donna Johnson from Lincoln, got more than their share of spooky, just by going to bed in a cold, dark house where they could hear things going bump in the night.

DONNA JOHNSON: You can hear these things, sound like gunshots, and it's - and the tree limbs breaking off or trees falling down.

SMITH: One after another.

JOHNSON: Right.

MATTHEW MEADE: It's spookier than it usually is.

SMITH: Six-year-old Matthew Meade is one of thousands delighted by the unexpected snow day from school. He came to the Home Depot with his dad to get fireplace tools. Others rushed the store for generators, flashlights, chainsaws and firewood. The Farrars went to three stores looking for logs to burn.

CURTIS FARRAR: Trying to light a fire.

FARRAR: About 55 in my house right now.

SMITH: Two logs, huh?

FARRAR: That's it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

FARRAR: Enough for now.

FARRAR: I was hoping for more but going to get some more wood right now.

SMITH: This Home Depot in Waltham, Massachusetts, is also without power. Cash registers and a few lights are working off a generator, and employees, like Delfine Bournique, were escorting customers through the aisles.

DELFINE BOURNIQUE: When it's pitch-dark outside, you don't see a lot in the store. It's very dark. So we were helping customers with flashlights.

SMITH: And no one knows how long until power lines will be fixed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINERY)

SMITH: Except for snowplows pushing the foot and a half of snow that fell in Amherst, Massachusetts, the usually busy town center was more like a ghost town today. A small crowd gathered at one business that managed to open: David Woodward Henion's coffee shop, where he started the day boiling water on his gas stoves to make coffee the old-fashioned way.

DAVID WOODWARD HENION: No, there was no power here. We worked by flashlight. But the power is on now.

SMITH: For others, however, officials say it may be a while. An unprecedented number of crews from as far as Texas and Michigan are helping in Massachusetts, but they're needed all over the Northeast, from New Jersey to New York, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Trees bigger than you could even get your arms around are lying on their sides in New York's Central Park. And in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie says many roads are still impassible, not so much because of the amount of snow, but because of the way it stuck to trees that still have leaves.

Governor CHRIS CHRISTIE: The leaves on the trees have made whole trees and huge branches come down, take down more wires or more lines down than there were during Hurricane Irene. And so this was an extraordinarily bizarre storm.

SMITH: How are you today? Good?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'm fine. How are you?

SMITH: Did you lose the power over your home?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We did.

SMITH: Same with me. Well, mine's still not on.

Back at the Home Depot in Waltham, Massachusetts, even the hardiest New Englanders are a little rattled by this nor'easter. We've all built snowmen before, just not usually with freshly carved pumpkins for heads. Tovia Smith, NPR News, Boston.

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