A powerful nor'easter weather system brought high winds, rain and even snow to areas of the U.S. East Coast still reeling from the blow dealt by Superstorm Sandy last week.

From Connecticut to Rhode Island, residents awoke Thursday morning to between seven and 15 centimetres of snow, while Worcester, Mass., discovered 20 centimetres had fallen.

In New York and New Jersey, residents got pounded with rain and winds gusting up to 96 km/h Wednesday night. Many residents, finally able to turn the lights back on this week after power was knocked out during Sandy, found themselves in darkness once again, using candles to light their homes and huddling under blankets to stay warm.

Ahead of the storm, there were concerns that homes would be flooded and that trees, already weakened by Sandy, would be ripped loose. But mercifully, the new storm failed to bring any more flooding.

But it did force airlines to cancel about 600 flights around the U.S. Thursday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware -- most in the New York area, though airports in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere were affected. Ahead of the storm Wednesday, more than 1,600 flights were cancelled.

For many, Wednesday night's storm represented the second blow from a one-two punch that began a week-and-a-half ago, when Sandy came ashore. Roughly 700,000 people were still without running water as of Thursday, and 100,000 people were homeless, CTV's Todd Battis said.

"They're really not recovered, not anywhere near recovered yet from Sandy, and then to be pounded by up to 10 centimetres of snow in some places and frigid temperatures, it's just above zero...’adding insult to injury’ doesn't seem like a strong enough term," Battis reported from Atlantic City, N.J.

He said many people were still holed up in shelters, unsure when and if they will be allowed back into their homes. The powerful storm surge shifted the foundations of many buildings, meaning they will likely be condemned and residents may never be allowed to return.

New York resident Viktoria Altman said many elderly and disabled residents remain trapped in their homes.

"A lot of people don't have friends and family to stay with, there are a lot of elderly people staying in these same apartments, where it's freezing, below freezing, with a foot of snow on the ground, it's hard for people," Altman told CTV's Canada AM.

She said the Red Cross has set up distribution centres providing blankets, food and water, but some residents don't have the ability to get to those centres, especially with elevators inoperable due to ongoing power outages.

Altman said she and other community volunteers were trying to fill the gap.

"We are doing everything we can. We have a lot of community activists here, for instance a local rabbi's wife has been trying to get everything together and to get volunteers to go up and down those stairs, to communicate with those senior citizens...there's a lot of elderly people trapped in those projects, they don't have heat, they don’t have any services and we need more people to help bring them blankets, help bring them candles," Altman said.

The new weather system wasn't expected to linger. Meteorologist Frank Nocera told The Associated Press temperatures would reach 10 C or so on Thursday in parts of the affected area, and edge up even higher by the weekend.

Joey Picca, a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service, said Thursday the snow and winds were migrating out of the New York City area.

A number of people just hunkered down to wait out the weather.

Staten Island resident Elena McDonnell, still without power after Sandy, said the latest storm was nothing compared to what she had already been through.

"It isn't scary at all," the 42-year-old said on Wednesday. "This is nothing."

Not everyone agreed. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie likened the storm to an act of God of Biblical proportions.

"I am waiting for the locusts and pestilence next," Christie said Wednesday. "We may take a setback in the next 24 hours."

And Katie Wilford said she was fed up with the weather and its effects. She was leaving her Brick Township home near Barnegat Bay as the nor'easter approached, bundling her sons Nick, 14, and Matthew, 10, into the minivan in search of an open motel.

"It's a little overwhelming," she told AP. "I can't believe we're doing this again. We're going on Day 10 with no power. That's a long time. I just want the sun to come out and things to be normal again."

Ahead of the storm, public works crews in New Jersey built up sand dunes to protect the already bruised and battered coast, and new evacuations were ordered in a number of communities.

In New York City, police went to at-risk, low-lying neighbourhoods and drove around with loudspeakers broadcasting evacuation advisories. However no mandatory evacuations were ordered, and many residents decided to wait out the storm.

"I'm staying," said 61-year-old Staten Islander Iliay Bardash. "Nothing can compare to what happened."

In Long Beach, N.Y., roughly 21,000 people who ignored previous mandatory evacuation orders in the barrier-island city were told to leave.

Following are some other key details about the storm:

  • All construction in New York City was halted. The order came after a crane collapsed last week in Manhattan.
  • Parks in New York we closed due to the risk of falling trees.
  • Drivers were asked to stay off the road from 5 p.m. onwards, and parts of the Long Island Expressway were shut down due to icing.
  • On Wednesday evening, the Long Island Rail Road shut down operations in and out of Penn Station.
  • 1,300 U.S. flights in and out of New York were cancelled.

With files from The Associated Press