Rhode Islanders continue to recover from Nemo

CLEAN-UP CONTINUES from winter storm Nemo, which dumped more than two feet of snow in parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts this weekend. Above: Snow plows drive down Harvard Street after Winter Storm Nemo in Brookline, Mass., on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Posted 2/12/13

(Updated, 4 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – Winter storm Nemo, which hit full force late Friday and dumped more than two feet of snow of parts of the Ocean State, left more than 187,000 Rhode Islanders without power. As of 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday all but 346 Rhode Islanders had power restored.

National Grid spokesman David Graves said that 187,263 Rhode Islanders lost power at one point during the storm. The peak for power outages in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts occurred on Saturday morning, after hurricane-force winds and heavy snow barraged the region throughout the night.

The storm has officially caused one Rhode Island death, a man who suffered a heart attack while shoveling snow, reported WPRI.com. In total, the blizzard resulted in more than 360 hospitalizations in the Ocean State, including many elderly residents who were in homes with no heat, according to the news source.

Nemo was blamed for at least 11 U.S. deaths, the Associated Press reported, including an 11-year-old boy in Boston who was overcome by carbon monoxide as he sat in a running car to keep warm.

Snow totals passed the two-foot mark in five of the six New England states, with Vermont being the exception. Snow fall totals in Rhode Island ranged from 17 inches at T.F. Green Airport to 27.5 inches in West Gloucester, according to Accuweather.com. Boston’s Logan Airport’s snowfall topped out at 24.9 inches, the fifth highest in the airport’s history.

Serve Rhode Island and the United Way 2-1-1 are asking for volunteers for “Dig Out R.I.,” an initiative to help elderly and disabled Rhode Islanders who need assistance with snow removal. Anyone in good physical condition who wants to help dig out a neighbor should fill out a survey at Dig Out RI. Once requests are received through the United Way, Serve Rhode Island will assign an address to available volunteers.

On Sunday, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and R.I. Emergency Management Agency Director Kevin R. McBride sent a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to perform a preliminary disaster assessment in all five Rhode Island counties. In the request to FEMA, McBride said, “Damages have been incurred due to heavy snow accumulations, drifting snow, and hurricane force winds resulting in dangerous driving conditions, stranded vehicles, power outages, potential structural damage, coastal flooding and other hazards.”

According to a release, the PDA process will help the state calculate damages and potentially apply for federal assistance.

Beginning Tuesday, four PDA teams comprised of federal, state and local officials, will conduct surveys throughout Rhode Island to asset the scope of damages and estimate repair costs. According to a RIEMA release, the PDA process is expected to be completed in two to three days.

“We are thankful for FEMA’s quick response to our request,” said Chafee in prepared remarks. “We understand that the PDA is the first step in the process to determine if the extent of damages would qualify the state for federal assistance, and it does not guarantee a federal disaster declaration.”

Information gathered during the PDA will be passed to the state for review. Based on the information collected, Chafee will decide whether or not to proceed with a formal request for federal assistance.

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

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