US Northeast digs out from snow, gas rationing expands


New York City and much of the U.S. Northeast dug out from a snowstorm that hammered a region struggling to recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, as local governments expanded gasoline rationing in the face of shortages that may last weeks.

The unseasonably early winter storm dumped more than a foot (30 cm) of snow on parts of Connecticut on Wednesday and battered the region with 50 mph (80 kph) winds, plunging 300,000 homes and businesses back into darkness. Rides aboard crowded trains were made more uncomfortable by the bulky coats, hats and scarves freezing commuters had to wear.

Bitter cold, rain, snow and powerful winds added to the misery of disaster victims whose homes were destroyed or power was knocked out by Sandy. The storm came ashore on Oct. 29 and caused widespread flooding, leading up to as much as $50 billion in economic losses and prompting the medical relief group Doctors Without Borders to set up its first-ever U.S. clinic.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was providing mobile homes to house those displaced by the storm, a reminder of the scramble after Hurricane Katrina seven years ago to tend to the newly homeless. Some evacuees will be put up nearly 200 miles (321 km) from home, FEMA said, because there is little available space closer to the city.

The snowstorm also created another commuting nightmare for a region whose transportation system was already under repair.

Train service was again spotty and crowded Thursday night; the Long Island Rail Road appealed to people to travel later in the evening. People coming out of the Newport PATH station in New Jersey had to negotiate busy rush-hour traffic without traffic lights, so one man took it on himself to direct cars.

Commuters were lucky to even get there, though.

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