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US snowstorm closes churches

15 February 2013

by a staff reporter


Icy path: a woman takes her dog for a walk on Hanover Street, in the North End neighbourhood of Boston, on Sunday

Icy path: a woman takes her dog for a walk on Hanover Street, in the North End neighbourhood of Boston, on Sunday

CHURCHES on the eastern coast of the United States held their services online on Sunday, as they were forced to close owing to a devastating winter storm.

The blizzard, named "Nemo" by some US weather broadcasters, was blamed for more than a dozen deaths across the eastern states. Thousands of homes were left without power after it struck last Friday. In some areas, more than 90 cm of snow fell in a few hours, causing travel chaos: many drivers were forced to sit in the cars overnight as roads quickly became impassable.

Travel bans were imposed in the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Salvation Army set up emergency-relief units to respond to people stranded or without power.

Services at many churches were cancelled on Sunday because of power cuts, or travel restrictions, but some were held via webcams and on Facebook pages instead.

The Priest-in-Charge at St Paul and St James, New Haven, the Revd Alex Dyer, said: "It doesn't bring the real joys of coming together for community, but it does provide a tool in these extreme circumstances for us to gather."

The snow didn't stop a gun "buy-back" scheme from going ahead at St Mary's Episcopal Church, Staten Island, New York. People who brought in a handgun or assault rifle were given a $200-pre-paid bank card, no questions asked. Those handing in rifles and shotguns were given a $20 bank card.

An extra premium was paid for assault rifles after the shooting in Sandy Hook elementary school in December, when 26 children and teachers were shot by a gunman using an assault rifle.

Fifty-five weapons, including a Soviet-era assault rifle, were handed in on the day, the New York Police Department said.


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