Snow keeps falling; flooding hits as New England battles blizzard

Updated 6:23 AM EST, Wed January 28, 2015
ac dnt northeast blizzard and flooding wrap_00000901.jpg
ac dnt northeast blizzard and flooding wrap_00000901.jpg
Now playing
01:59
Flooding fears rise as blizzard concerns pass
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NOAA-20 acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 2:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 26, 2020.
NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NOAA-20 acquired this image of Hurricane Laura at 2:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 26, 2020.
Now playing
01:13
Another active hurricane season is forecasted with 17 named storms
This picture taken on July 26, 2015 shows a child playing in a fountain on a square to cool himself amid a heatwave in Binzhou, eastern China's Shandong province.   CHINA OUT     AFP PHOTO        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
STR/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
This picture taken on July 26, 2015 shows a child playing in a fountain on a square to cool himself amid a heatwave in Binzhou, eastern China's Shandong province. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:14
What NOT to do in a heat wave
Larry Pierson, from the Isle of Palms, S.C., purchases bottled water from the Harris Teeter grocery store on the Isle of Palms in preparation for Hurricane Florence at the Isle of Palms S.C., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Mic Smith/AP
Larry Pierson, from the Isle of Palms, S.C., purchases bottled water from the Harris Teeter grocery store on the Isle of Palms in preparation for Hurricane Florence at the Isle of Palms S.C., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)
Now playing
00:57
How to prepare for a hurricane
how hail is formed explainer orig_00000021.jpg
how hail is formed explainer orig_00000021.jpg
Now playing
01:00
How hail is formed
IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Patricia is seen from the International Space Station. The hurricane made landfall on the Pacfic coast of Mexico on October 23. (Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)
NASA
IN SPACE - In this handout photo provided by NASA, Hurricane Patricia is seen from the International Space Station. The hurricane made landfall on the Pacfic coast of Mexico on October 23. (Photo by Scott Kelly/NASA via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:07
Why hurricanes are so hard to predict
Storm chasing photographers take photos underneath a rotating supercell storm system in Maxwell, Nebraska on September 3, 2016. Although multiple tornado warnings were issued throughout the area, no funnel cloud touched down. / AFP / Josh Edelson / XGTY
RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE  / MANDATORY CREDIT:  "AFP PHOTO / Josh EDELSON" / NO MARKETING / NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS /  DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS  ==        (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
JOSH EDELSON/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Storm chasing photographers take photos underneath a rotating supercell storm system in Maxwell, Nebraska on September 3, 2016. Although multiple tornado warnings were issued throughout the area, no funnel cloud touched down. / AFP / Josh Edelson / XGTY RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE / MANDATORY CREDIT: "AFP PHOTO / Josh EDELSON" / NO MARKETING / NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS / DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:59
The difference between a tornado watch and a warning
Now playing
01:26
Hurricanes: What you don't know
Courtesy Amy Lloyd
Now playing
01:06
Why flash floods are so dangerous
Now playing
01:54
Why snow and blackouts in Texas are a preview for all of us
ring of fire chad myers weather orig_00003221.jpg
ring of fire chad myers weather orig_00003221.jpg
Now playing
01:13
What is the 'Ring of Fire'?
TOPSHOT - A city worker drives through the flooded street during Hurricane Sally in downtown Pensacola, Florida on September 16, 2020. - Hurricane Sally barrelled into the US Gulf Coast early Wednesday, with forecasts of drenching rains that could provoke "historic" and potentially deadly flash floods.The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Category 2 storm hit Gulf Shores, Alabama at about 4:45 am (0945 GMT), bringing maximum sustained winds of about 105 miles (165 kilometers) per hour."Historic life-threatening flooding likely along portions of the northern Gulf coast," the Miami-based center had warned late Tuesday, adding the hurricane could dump up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in some areas. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A city worker drives through the flooded street during Hurricane Sally in downtown Pensacola, Florida on September 16, 2020. - Hurricane Sally barrelled into the US Gulf Coast early Wednesday, with forecasts of drenching rains that could provoke "historic" and potentially deadly flash floods.The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the Category 2 storm hit Gulf Shores, Alabama at about 4:45 am (0945 GMT), bringing maximum sustained winds of about 105 miles (165 kilometers) per hour."Historic life-threatening flooding likely along portions of the northern Gulf coast," the Miami-based center had warned late Tuesday, adding the hurricane could dump up to 20 inches (50 centimeters) of rain in some areas. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:41
How to prepare for severe weather
Franck Verdière/Twitter
Now playing
01:10
What 'rapid intensification' means for storms
natural disasters climate change project planet weir orig_00000313.jpg
CNN
natural disasters climate change project planet weir orig_00000313.jpg
Now playing
03:42
The future of climate change is here, scientist warns
Now playing
01:29
Steer like this to stay out of accidents in the snow
how hurricanes are named orig_00002729.jpg
how hurricanes are named orig_00002729.jpg
Now playing
01:38
How are hurricanes named?

Story highlights

National Guard sergeant describes her storm-battered home: "It was just destroyed"

Boston mayor: "We're not out of this yet"

"This is nothing like we feared it would be," New York's mayor says of the impact on his city

CNN —  

Sgt. Jennifer Bruno knew the blizzard battering New England might be brutal.

So as the storm hit, she spent Monday night at a friend’s house. When she returned to her coastal home in Marshfield, Massachusetts, Tuesday, she discovered a devastating scene.

Rocks were everywhere, she said.

“Part of the roof collapsed, the wall, my door was missing,” she told CNN’s AC360. “It was just destroyed.”

The Massachusetts National Guard sergeant and Iraq war veteran cried when she caught the first glimpse of what happened. Then she went back inside to get her uniforms, a sword she got in Iraq and a cross with scripture on it that once hung on her wall.

01:28 - Source: CNN AP
Blizzard destroys National Guard sergeant's home

“I’ve been through a lot, and that was just more than I thought would have happened,” she said. “(I’ll) just take it one day at a time.”

As crews started surveying storm damage and clearing streets, officials warned that the potential for record-setting snowfall remains as stormy weather wallops New England. But Bruno and other residents of coastal areas faced another more menacing threat: storm surge flooding.

On Massachusetts’ South Shore, the ocean roared inland to flood the Brant Rock Esplanade, lined with homes and businesses. Marshfield’s police department posted a photo of what it called a “major seawall breach (that) caused structural damage” to an unoccupied home. Authorities in neighboring Duxbury showed a deck blown yards away from a home. And not far away in Scituate, slushy ice, seawater and debris clogged streets as waves came crashing toward shore.

’We’re not out of this yet’

In Boston, where about 2 feet of snow had fallen, the city’s mayor said there was still work to be done.

“We’re not out of this yet. We’re trying to get ahead of it,” Mayor Marty Walsh said. “We just keep plowing.”

The hardest-hit area – Auburn, Massachuetts – got 32.5 inches of snow. And it hasn’t stopped yet.

“This is a very significant storm, and in many parts of Massachusetts, I think, you could call it, in fact, a historic event,” Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters.

Massachusetts wasn’t the only state getting hit hard Tuesday. The National Weather Service also reported about 20 inches of snow in Portland, Maine; 32 inches in Hudson, New Hampshire; and 30 inches in Orient on New York’s Long Island.

On the northern edge of the storm in Maine, Rockland resident Steve DePasa said at 1 p.m. that up to 15 inches of snow was already on the ground, and “we’re expected to get another 10 inches.”

So what can you do in the meantime, besides pray that the power stays on?

“It’s just go out and clean up a little bit so you can,” said DePasa, a CNN iReporter. “Then wait a few hours and do it again.”

The good news? Most people seemed to have heeded the warnings about the storm, which was forecast as “crippling” and “potentially historic,” by stocking up and staying off the roads. If you go through this every year, after all, there’s a good chance you’ll know the drill.

“During these storms, everybody has to hunker down and just be safe,” said Bob Connors from Plum Island, on Massachusetts’ North Shore. “We’ve become pretty proficient at that.”

N.Y. mayor: ‘We’ve dodged the bullet’

As the storm approached, Marge Winski hoped for the best.

It’s not the first time she’s braced for bad weather as the caretaker of a lighthouse in Montauk, New York. Riding out Superstorm Sandy was terrifying, she said. This storm, which packed powerful winds, also had it’s scary moments, she said.

“I was just praying I didn’t get sick, or the roof didn’t blow off,” she said. “What was I going to do? You know no one’s coming to get you.”

But Winski, like many residents of New York and New Jersey, was breathing a sigh of relief on Tuesday.

A day earlier, officials warned the storm could turn 58 million people’s lives upside down. Seven states, from New Jersey to New Hampshire, declared states of emergency. School was canceled. Public transit shut down. Businesses closed, suggesting a far-reaching economic impact in one of America’s busiest commercial regions.

But by midmorning, snow wasn’t even falling in New York City. By then, travel bans in New Jersey and New York – even places like Long Island’s Islip, which got more than 20 inches of snow – had been lifted.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called all the warning and preparations “a better-safe-than-sorry scenario.”

“We’ve dodged the bullet,” he said. “This is nothing like we feared it would be.”

But for some in the state, the storm proved dangerous.

A 17-year-old died after he hit something while snow-tubing Monday night in Huntington, New York, Suffolk County’s Tim Sini said. An 83-year-old man who suffered from dementia was found frozen to death in his backyard in the same Long Island county.

Blocked in, hunkered down

The forecast even improved for Boston. Once expected to see up to 30 inches of snow, Logan International Airport had received 24.4 inches by midnight Tuesday.

Still, 2 feet of snow isn’t anything to scoff at.

Just ask all those who had their cars snowed in, their front doors blocked and their backyards littered with branches Tuesday.

“The worst part is the steady winds, I think they were approaching 50 mph,” said Nantucket Police Chief William Pittman.

The entire island, where 15,000 people live, lost power during the storm. But that didn’t stop the doctors and nurses at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, where Cayden Keith Moore was born at the height of the blizzard early Tuesday.

04:55 - Source: CNN
Baby boy born during Nantucket blizzard

As she cradled her newborn boy, mom Danielle Smith said she was doing well, thanks to the generator keeping the hospital warm.

“It’s definitely better to be here than at home with no power,” she said.

Thousands of flights canceled

If you’re trying to escape this wintry mess quickly, don’t count on it.

Traffic crawled on everything from side roads to highways – including the Massachusetts Turnpike, which was closed to traffic as of early Tuesday afternoon – and many public transit systems shut down.

More than 4,700 flights in and out of the United States had been canceled as of 8 p.m. Tuesday, the flight-tracking website Flightaware.com reported. That’s on top of 2,800 scrubbed Monday. Hundreds more have already been called off for Wednesday.

Amtrak was also affected, suspending Northeast Regional and Acela Express services between New York and Boston for Tuesday because of the weather.

What to know if you’re traveling

From stocking up to snowball fights

The storm warnings seemed to impress even the most jaded Northeasterner, as groceries flew off store shelves from Brooklyn to Bangor.

Shoppers clear the shelves at a Star Market in Boston
Rafi Menachem
Shoppers clear the shelves at a Star Market in Boston

Still, it’s not like everyone was shaking in their snow boots.

As Steve Nogueira, a retired meteorologist who lives in Taunton, Massachusetts, said, “We’ve done it before.”

In the coastal city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, hundreds accepted a Facebook invitation to a community snowball fight – one that organizer Devin Murphy joked is in the proud tradition dating back to around 1624, when the city was first settled.