The US capital struggled to plow and shovel its way back to life Monday after a blizzard smothered the East Coast, with mountains of snow lining streets and schools and the federal government shut.
The storm was blamed for at least 33 deaths as it slammed a dozen states from Friday into early Sunday, many of them people who suffered heart attacks while shoveling, or killed on icy roads, though several died of carbon monoxide poisoning trying to keep warm in cars or homes.
Washington’s subway and bus network, closed all weekend, resumed service Monday but on a very limited basis with trains running for free.
More accustomed to heavy snowfall, New York City seemed to bounce back more easily with schools in the Big Apple open and the mass transit system up and running for the most part.
But for many the thrill of a weekend spent playing in the snow, or in warm homes watching a stunning display of nature’s power, gave way to the realization that, in Washington at least, the cleanup will be long and messy.
“From my estimation we got more snow than I have ever seen in Washington, DC,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told CNN. “We are working hard to dig out all of our residential streets.”
Under a sunny sky, the normally bustling avenues around the White House were all but deserted.
Heavy machinery equipped with powerful vacuums sucked at chest-high drifts of snow and spat it into 18-wheel trucks moving alongside at a snail’s pace.
Dump trucks laden with increasingly dirty snow rumbled through the streets and crews in bright red shirts went at it with shovels. Everywhere, there was snow.
The few people out and about trudged through slush and ice and picked their way through drifts left by plows. Many restaurants, office buildings and stores remained closed.
Limited flight operations resumed from Washington’s Reagan National and Dulles International airports, a day after officials battled in New York to get some aircraft off the ground.
More than 22 inches (56 centimeters) of snow paralyzed Washington, while the 26.8 inches that fell in New York’s Central Park was the second-highest accumulation since records began in 1869.