Storm Pelts Northeast With Heavy Snow and Rain

AS the Northeast continued to wring itself out after a weekend storm that brought heavy rain, snow, and coastal flooding, authorities tried to assign a dollar amount to damage. No state had sought federal disaster assistance as of Sunday.

At least 18 deaths were blamed on the storm that hit New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and other states on Thursday and lasted into Sunday in some areas.

In New York City on Friday, subways were unable to run, riverside highways became canals, and basements were flooded in lower Manhattan skyscrapers.

Rep. Charles Schumer (D) of New York quoted Army Corps of Engineers experts as saying it would cost $40 million to $50 million just to restore eroded Queens beaches, where a fire hydrant, perched on its pipe eight feet above ground, stood as a monument to the pounding tides.

Roaring in from the Atlantic late Thursday with relentless rain, tides 3 to 5 feet above normal, and wind gusts exceeding 75 miles per hour, the storm was described by meteorologists as a classic nor'easter.

North of New York City, which escaped the snow, and south in New Jersey, hundreds of thousands of people waited for their power to be restored, while those on the coast waded through basements and sorted through soaked belongings.

In Massachusetts, snowfall varied widely, from virtually no snow in some coastal regions near Boston to waist-high accumulations in central and western areas.

Massachusetts communities expected less of a blow to the wallet than that caused by a nor'easter that hit the region around Halloween 1991, for which about $100 million in insurance claims and repairs have been paid.

"I'm right back to square one again," said Jim Lennox, who still was repairing his home in Nahant after last year's storm. "My cellar is completely flooded. There's just no way to protect yourself from this."

Massachusetts lobstermen, fishing late into the season to make up for low prices and financial losses left from 1991, were caught with traps deployed.

Seas remained too rough Sunday for fishermen to check on damage to their gear, "but having seen what the ocean looked like, I'd say this will be very serious," said Lattie Dexter, president of the Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association.

Lobster traps that washed ashore were being snapped up by salvagers. "Hey, $40 a lobster trap is $40," said one man with 10 in his truck.

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