(New throughout, adds details on New York repair program)
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK Jan 24 Arctic air gripped parts of the
United States on Thursday, making life miserable for people
still without heat months after superstorm Sandy and turning
steam from a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania into a snowfall
substantial enough to shovel.
In Ely, Minnesota, the latest in a string of frigid days
plunged the mercury to 29 below zero Fahrenheit (minus 34
Celsius), according to the National Weather Service. The
stunningly low temperature, which came without fatoring in wind
chill, was recorded under calm skies near Minnesota's border
with Canada, the weather service said.
In Brooklyn, New York, where about 200 homes slammed by
Sandy in October remained without heat, "It's just getting
colder and colder," said Doreen Greenwood-Garson, chief of the
Gerritsen Beach Fire Department.
Nightly, the volunteer department has loaded its ambulance
with donated space heaters and free hot meals and delivered them
to shut-ins, said Greenwood-Garson, a real estate broker.
Already it has given away a total of 60 space heaters and each
night about 50 meals, she said.
In Long Beach on New York's Long Island, the Martin Luther
King Center, a community gathering spot, ran out of donated
space heaters, said James Hodge, a city employee who is
coordinating relief efforts there and is without heat in his own
"I even gave out my own personal heaters that I was sleeping
with," Hodge said.
He and his two brothers have been sleeping in several layers
of clothes under piles of blankets near pots of hot water, their
breath still visible in the cold of their home.
The center has been hosting more than 100 people during the
day who needed a warm place to stay for a few hours,
particularly school-children, who are being provided hot food,
Hodge said he was concerned that some people still suffering
from the storm's damage may be increasingly reluctant to seek
help as time went on.
"Do I ask three months later for a sweater?" he said. "Do I
ask for some food three months later when everyone thinks I'm
fine, when I should be back on my feet? I think some people
suffer from not asking because they're worried about who's going
to question them."
New York City is making free emergency repairs to thousands
of Sandy-damaged homes under its newly created Rapid Repairs
program, which supplies furnaces, water heaters and other
materials and pays contractors to make repairs at no cost to
residents and landlords.
As of Wednesday, the program had restored heat, power or hot
water to more than 12,000 homes in 7,363 buildings, work was
underway in another 1,870 buildings and repairs had yet to start
in 2,620 buildings, a spokesman for the program said.
Temperatures were expected to rise a bit when a snowstorm
was predicted for Friday to blanket Midwestern and Atlantic
coastal states, according to meteorologist Alex Sosnowski of
In Pennsylvania, some residents already have been shoveling,
after steam from cooling stacks of a nuclear power plant in
Shippingport, 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh near the Ohio
border, met the cold snap on Tuesday.
As a result, snow fell over area homes for about six hours,
said Fred McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather
Service. Ground-level cold air met the stacks' warm moist air,
forming a cloud that produced snowflakes, he said.
"Don't eat glowing snow!" Philadelphia Daily News reporter
David Murphy jokingly wrote on Twitter.
Accuweather.com noted the Shippingport snow was neither
fluorescent nor radioactive.
(Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Drew
Singer in Pittsburgh, Writing by Barbara Goldberg, Editing by
Ellen Wulfhorst, David Gregorio and Kenneth Barry)