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Northeast gradually digs out from snowstorm

| Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

NEWPORT, R.I. — Travel eased and life slowly returned to normal for most New Englanders after a blizzard, but many remained without power in cold and darkened homes. A forecast of rain brought a new worry: Weight piling dangerously on roofs burdened by heavy snow.

The storm that slammed into the region with up to 3 feet of snow was blamed for at least 14 deaths in the Northeast and Canada and brought some of the highest accumulations ever recorded. Still, coastal areas were largely spared catastrophic damage despite being lashed by strong waves and hurricane-force wind gusts at the height of the storm.

Hundreds of people, their homes without heat or electricity, were forced to take refuge in emergency shelters set up in schools or other places.

“For all the complaining everyone does, people really came through,” said Rich Dinsmore, 65, of Newport, R.I., who was staying in an American Red Cross shelter set up in a middle school in Middletown after the power went out in his home on Friday.

Dinsmore, who has emphysema, was first brought by ambulance to a hospital after the medical equipment on which he relies failed when the power went out and he had difficulty in breathing.

“The police, the fire department, the state, the Red Cross, the volunteers — it really worked well,” said the retired radio broadcaster and Army veteran.

Utility crews, some brought in from as far away as Georgia, Oklahoma and Quebec, raced to restore power to more than 300,000 customers — down from 650,000 in eight states at the height of the storm. In hardest-hit Massachusetts, where some 234,000 customers remained without power on Sunday, officials said some of the outages might linger until Tuesday.

Driving bans were lifted and flights resumed at major airports in the region that had closed during the storm, though many flights were still canceled Sunday.

The Boston-area public transportation system, which shut down on Friday afternoon, partially resumed subway service and some bus routes on Sunday. Beverly Scott, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said full service was expected on Monday — albeit with delays.

“Give yourself more time and expect that it is going to take us more time,” Scott advised riders.

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