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New York Digs Out as City Dodges Worst of Snowstorm

By  Jill Colvin and Tom Liddy | February 9, 2013 10:12am | Updated on February 9, 2013 10:30pm

NEW YORK CITY — The deadly blizzard that walloped Eastern Long Island and much of New England dumped about a foot of snow on the city, but largely spared it from the brunt of the record-setting tempest.

Central Park saw 11.4 inches of the white stuff through 3 p.m. Saturday, slightly more than the low end of the 10-14 inch range that was forecast as the storm bore down on the city Friday night.

"We certainly avoided the worst," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference Saturday morning at an Astoria, Queens sanitation garage.

Eastern Long Island, by contrast was walloped with nearly 3 feet of snow in some cases. As of 3 p.m. Saturday, Commack had 29.1 inches and St. James and Stonybrook had each piled up 27.5 inches. Winds topped 80 mph in some places in New England.

More than 5,000 customers on Long Island remained without power as of Saturday night.

Both Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to send resources to the island and other hard-hit areas to help them dig out and recover.

"If we can do anything to help them, we certainly will," Bloomberg said. "We should not forget that when we were in trouble, the country came to our aid and we want to make sure we do the same."

Staten Island, which was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy, got less than 7 inches of snow, but parts of the Bronx and Eastern Queens saw much more of the white stuff.

On Saturday morning, New Yorkers began the cleanup process.

Frank Merges, 53, manager of the Remedy Diner, in the Lower East Side, said that business was slower than usual but that the snow had little overall impact.

"Dig ourselves out? No! This is nothing," he said. "We were open twenty four hours so we kept shoveling  the sidewalk, but this isn't a big storm."

As of Saturday morning, less than 300 customers in the city remained without power, but Con Ed officials warned that high winds associated with the back end of the storm could produce sporadic outages.

Customers can check the uitlity's outage map for updates.

Throughout the day, there were sporadic manhole explosions as snow melted around the city.

"Please don't drive," he said. "Stay off the roads."

Overnight Friday, an army of 2,200 vehicles plowed and salted the roads, and all primary streets, most secondary streets and 60 percent of tertiary streets had been plowed by Saturday morning.

Residents can check the city's Plow NYC website for updates about plowing progress.

Still, the mayor asked New Yorkers to stay off the roads until they were clear.

The storm crippled the region's transportation, but service within the city was largely spared. On Saturday, transit was slowly getting back to normal.

According to the mayor, teams from the NYPD checked on families that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy and still had no heat. But he urged those who might be displaying the symptoms of hypothermia to call 911.

With the temperature expected to plummet to 19 degrees Saturday night before warming up to the mid 40s during the week, slipping on icy surfaces was a consideration.

The city will also have several warming centers open Sunday in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island for those who feel cold.

But for many kids in the city, the snow, the first significant accumulation since the Blizzard of 2010 was an opportunity to have some fun.

From building snowmen to having snowball fights, the city was transformed into a winter wonderland.

Marc Trevino and his wife, Camille Orme, played in ABC Playground in the Lower East Side with their daughters Clara and Rowan, 4, Saturday morning.

They said they had been sledding for approximately an hour and a half. and were undaunted by the chill still hanging in the air.

"It's awesome," said Orme, 38. "We love the snow."

There were rooftop snowball fights in Fort Greene, cross-country skiing in Central Park and sledding at parks around the city.

In fact, there was such a run on sleds that the Toys 'R Us in Times Square was sold out before 11 a.m. Saturday. A nearby Modells also sold out after having just two sleds left in the morning.

In Staten Island, a 10-year-old boy suffered a head injury when he crashed into a tree while sledding. His condition was not clear.

On the Upper East Side, Asphalt Green hosted a snowmen buidling contest where kids of all ages showed up to show off their creativity.

Jack Reilly, 7, places the cap on a snowman at the event, with a helping hand from his father Ed who said: "Its supposed to be Michael Floyd, who plays for the Arizona Cardinals."