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Snow-laden roofs are new worry after storm

Blizzard blamed for deaths of 14

Small planes were snowed in at the closed Bridgeport, Conn., airport Sunday.

Craig Ruttle/Associate Press

Small planes were snowed in at the closed Bridgeport, Conn., airport Sunday.

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

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Still, coastal areas were largely spared catastrophic damage despite being lashed by strong waves and hurricane-force 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, who was staying at a 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 he relies on failed when the power went out and he had difficulty 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, a total that was as high as 650,000 in eight states at the height of the storm.

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 National Weather Service was forecasting rain and warmer temperatures in the region on Monday, which could begin melting some snow but also add considerable weight to snow already piled on roofs, posing the danger of collapse. Of greatest concern were flat or gently sloped roofs and officials said people should try to clear them, but only if they could do so safely.

In Middlefield, Conn., two cows were killed when the roof of a barn gave way under the weight of heavy snow, one of two such incidents in the state that prompted agriculture officials to issue an advisory to farmers.

Officials also continued to warn of carbon monoxide dangers in the wake of the storm. Authorities reminded homeowners to clear snow from heating vents to prevent carbon monoxide from seeping back into houses.

In Maine, the Penobscot County sheriff’s office said it recovered the body of a 75-year-old man who died after the pickup he was driving struck a tree and plunged into the Penobscot River during the storm.

Investigators said Gerald Crommett apparently became disoriented while driving in the blinding snow.

Utility companies also reported steady progress in restoring power to customers.

Rhode Island reported about 54,000 power outages Sunday, down from 185,000. Connecticut still had about 15,000 without power.

Newport resident Christine Carreiro, who spent time at a shelter with her 2-year-old son who suffers from asthma and needs treatment from an electrically powered nebulizer, said she was thankful for the effort by line workers.

‘‘Whoever was fixing the power lines left their families to help us,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m very grateful.’’

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