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East Coast Digs Out Of Massive Snowstorm

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AP Photo/Craig Ruttle
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Millions of Americans began digging out Sunday from a mammoth blizzard that set a new single-day snowfall record in Washington and New York City. 

The heaviest snow began falling Friday evening, and tapered off just before midnight Saturday. Millions heeded calls to stay home, enabling road crews to clear snow and ice. 

Travel bans barring non-emergency vehicles from the roads of New York City and Long Island state roads were lifted, and service on commuter railroads is being restored gradually. 

Metro-North service was restored on Sunday afternoon. Officials say they're hoping to restore service to the Long Island Rail Road by the Monday morning commute. Governor Andrew Cuomo says many of the railroad's yards are still buried in more than two feet of snow and tracks are still impeded by stranded trains  and frozen switches. 

Flooding was a major concern for Long Island.  Christina Ventura lives in an area of Lindenhurst that has been prone to flooding. She said that following this weekend's snow storm, water reached half way up her driveway and onto her lawn.

“It is full of water and ice. It looks to be at least two feet, maybe a little bit more, deep,” says Ventura, "It kind of looks like very small ice glaciers."

Ventura said ultimately the water did not reach her house.

After Superstorm Sandy in October of 2012, a dozen power stations were flooded and caused weeks-long outages for hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders. Since then, federal funding helped elevate or relocate eight of those stations. The other four were sandbagged to keep the water out.

Crews were working to restore power in places around the East Coast and flooding remained a problem in some areas, but as predicted, the impact was nothing like Superstorm Sandy. There were no major outages on Long Island or in Connecticut.

The air travel picture remained complicated after 7,000 weekend flights were canceled: United Airlines said limited service might begin later Sunday in New York City, but airports in the Washington D.C. area were likely to remain closed Sunday, and other airlines began cutting Monday service.

The massive snowstorm brought both the nation's capital and its largest city to a stop, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow and stranding tens of thousands of travelers. At least 18 deaths were blamed on the weather, resulting from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia.

The storm dropped 26.8 inches in Central Park, the second-most recorded since 1869 and just short of 26.9 inches set in February 2006. The 26.6 inches that fell on Saturday, however, was the city's record for a single day. At Washington's National Zoo, 22.4 inches fell, beating the 21 inches that fell on Jan. 28, 1922.

The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England. Islip, New York recorded 26 inches of snow, Norwalk, Connecticut recorded 16 inches of snow, and Bridgeport recorded 12 inches. 

Bridgeport resident John Peregrim spent Sunday morning shoveling his sidewalk so he could get to his car. He said he didn’t expect to see so much snow. Initial reports called for six to ten inches.

“The storm took us by surprise. Got a little bit more than that. But we’ll make do, said Peregrim, "It’s New England.”

The state Department of Transportation said it had up to 700 plows in service during the storm. The cities of Bridgeport and Stamford declared snow emergencies.

Scott Appleby, Emergency Management Director for the city of Bridgeport, said the city learned a lot from a winter storm in 2013, when some areas went unplowed for days and some residents criticized the city’s slow response. That storm brought record snowfall to Bridgeport.

“Once you receive 34 inches of snowfall in one event, these events, in a sense, they’re not easy, but there’s less challenges.”

Appleby said this year, the city enforced parking restrictions and put more plows on streets earlier. 

On Sunday, the usually bustling New York City looked more like a ghost town. With Broadway shows dark, thin crowds shuffled through a different kind of Great White Way, the nickname for a section of the theater district. And Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday's scheduled show at Madison Square Garden.

In Washington, monuments that would typically be busy with tourists stood vacant. All mass transit in the capital was shut down through Sunday. In northern Virginia, plow trucks outnumbered passenger vehicles on the streets Sunday

Travel conditions were improving from the dangerously snowy, icy roads that led to crashes that killed several people Friday and Saturday. Those killed included a 4-year-old boy in North Carolina; a Kentucky transportation worker who was plowing highways; and a woman whose car plunged down a 300-foot embankment in Tennessee. Three people died while shoveling snow in Queens and Staten Island.

An Ohio teenager sledding behind an all-terrain vehicle was hit by a truck and killed, and two people died of hypothermia in southwest Virginia. In North Carolina, a man whose car had veered off an icy-covered road was arrested on charges of killing one of three men who stopped to help.

In Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, drivers were marooned for hours on snow-choked highways. Roofs collapsed on a historic theater in Virginia and a horse barn in Maryland.

The snow was whipped into a maelstrom by winds that reached 75 mph at Dewey Beach, Delaware, and Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, the weather service said. From Virginia to New York, sustained winds topped 30 mph and gusted to around 50 mph.  And if that weren't enough, the storm also had bursts of thunder and lightning.

Stranded travelers included Defense Secretary Ash Carter, whose high-tech aircraft, the Doomsday Plane, couldn't land at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after returning from Europe. Carter was rerouted to Tampa, Florida.

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Charles Lane reported from Long Island. Davis Dunavin reported from Bridgeport. Seth Borenstein reported from Washington. Contributors include Associated Presswriters William Mathis, Scott Mayerowitz and Jake Pearson in New York; AlexBrandon and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington; Jessica Gresko in Arlington,Virginia; Ben Nuckols in Burke, Virginia; Juliet Linderman in Baltimore; AdrianSainz in Memphis, Tennessee; Claire Garofalo in Louisville, Kentucky; John Rabyin Charleston, West Virginia; and Bob Lentz in Philadelphia.

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