About one million people still remain powerless after five days from the unseasonable and deadly snowstorm that hit Northeast US.
Many states were hit with the white stuff over the weekend, fallen trees tangled power lines across the region, sparking widespread outages.
The unseasonable snowstorm has been blamed for at least 19 fatalities, mostly due to slippery roads but also from unvented toxic fumes in homes where people were running alternative power sources, such as gas generators and propane stoves.
Officials across New England pleaded with residents to exercise extreme caution when using such devices, as two more deaths were blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning on Tuesday in Massachusetts.
A 57-year old man, a 22-year-old woman, and two dogs perished from toxic fumes in a home in Palmer, Massachusetts in an incident officials said was related to the storm.
The source was a propane canister with a heating attachment that was running in the home for many hours.
Massachusetts Fire Marshall Stephen Coan said:
“Heaters like this need a tremendous amount of ventilation to be able to be used – and quite frankly, they shouldn’t be used indoors.”
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said on Wednesday that western and central Massachusetts suffered a “tremendous amount of damage” and 215,173 customers are still in the dark.
In the immediate aftermath of the weekend storm, some 700,000 customers had lost power in the state.
In Gill, Massachusetts, Colleen Sculley said she has been without power since Saturday. She and her husband are using a wood stove to keep the house warm for their two toddlers.
“It’s only bad at nighttime when it’s dark,’ she said, adding that the toddlers stay close by. “They don’t want to play far away even when we have candlelight out for them.”
In Connecticut, where more than 550,000 customers remained affected, customers in many towns likely would not see power return until Sunday, Connecticut Light & Power said.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy asked that towns and cities open warming centers in local fire stations and encouraged people to check in on neighbors, especially the elderly.
The unseasonable snowstorm caused more major damage to the electric infrastructure in hard-hit New Jersey than did Hurricane Irene, utility companies said.
Counties such as Bergen, Essex, Passaic and Union suffered the biggest blows.
Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), the state’s biggest electric power provider said: “A larger number of individual service lines damaged as a result of falling tree limbs.
“Repairing the significant number of single lines from the poles to customers’ homes and businesses pose the greatest challenge with this storm.”
In New Hampshire, about 86,000 customers still had no power, mainly in the southern tier around Nashua and Manchester and in the nearby mountains, said Colin Manning, spokesman for New Hampshire’s governor’s office.
Power outages also included more than 130,000 customers in New Jersey, at least 60,000 in Pennsylvania and at least 100,000 in New York.