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More Snow Woe$

Backs aren't the only things hurting as residents of the Northeast shovel away mounds of snow left by the year's first blizzard. State and city budgets also are strained.

While the storm meant a pile of green for plow drivers, clearing away all the snow was a monumental headache for governments already wrestling with fiscal shortfalls. And the trouble isn't over: Rain expected this week, combined with melting snow, has several states bracing for flooding.

The storm, blamed for 59 deaths, finally headed out to sea after taking a parting shot at Boston, which got a record 27.5 inches by the time the snow stopped falling Tuesday morning.

Even though the storm was gone, many schools still remained closed Wednesday, including all Philadelphia public and parochial schools, because of snow-clogged and slippery streets and roads.

The storm cost Massachusetts between $7 million and $8 million in snow removal, bringing the state's total so far this year to at least $62 million. The state had budgeted only $16 million in fiscal 2003 for snow removal.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg estimated the storm would cost his city $20 million - about $1 million for each inch of snow. Maryland's State Highway Administration was already $14 million over budget before the President's Day storm, which Gov. Robert Ehrlich estimated had cost the state an additional $20 million to $30 million.

Baltimore-Washington National Airport got 28.2 inches, its highest on record, according to the National Weather Service. It was the fourth heaviest on record for New York City - 19.8 inches in Central Park.

It could have been worse, some state officials said, coming as it did on a long holiday weekend when many businesses were closed.

"This has been one of those storms where things could go either way, and it's gone the right way every time for us," said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. "It was sort of Murphy's Law in reverse."

Twelve weather-related deaths were reported in Pennsylvania, with two in Illinois, eight in West Virginia, six in Missouri, two in Virginia, 11 in Maryland, four in New York, four in Iowa, two in New Jersey and one each in Nebraska, Ohio, Massachusetts and
Connecticut. The Maryland victims included four children killed by carbon monoxide while sitting in snowbound vehicles.

Three people died in Tennessee, including a 7-year-old girl whose body was found Tuesday, two days after the car she was riding in was swept away by a flood. Her 12-year-old brother was still missing.

Authorities warned of the danger of roofs collapsing under the weight of snow. New Jersey's death was caused by a collapse and one person was injured in Massachusetts when a warehouse fell in. Thirteen poultry houses collapsed in West Virginia, killing about 325,000 chickens and turkeys.

White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., lost one of its Civic Center buildings, which held offices and exercise class space. "The walls buckled and the whole building was folding in on itself," said Mayor Debbie Fogus.

The storm that produced the heavy snow also brought heavy rain that caused weekend flooding in Tennessee, Kentucky, southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia.

Residents of some areas braced for more flooding as the snow melts and more rain is likely later in the week. West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise put the National Guard on standby as a precaution, and said more than 200 families already had been affected by floods.

About an inch of rain could fall in Kentucky, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael McLane in Jackson, Ky. "With the ground already saturated, we can't rule out the possibility of some additional flood problems."

More than 250 travelers spent a third night stranded at Philadelphia International Airport while they waited for flights to return to normal. The airport supplied blankets and pillows.

Mickey Bucknam, 85, of Williamstown, N.J., had been stuck at Philadelphia International since Sunday. She and a cousin were trying to get to England to visit relatives.

"I never travel in the winter," Bucknam said, "and I'll never do it again."

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