Firefighters Check on New Yorkers Displaced by Sandy

NEW YORK, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Arctic air hovering over parts of the United States on Thursday made life miserable for New Yorkers still without heat months after superstorm Sandy and just plain weird for Pennsylvanians shoveling snow created by a nuclear power plant's released steam.

The latest in a string of frigid days, from the Northeast to Midwest, plunged the mercury to 29 below zero Fahrenheit (minus 34 Celsius) in Ely, Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service. And that's with no wind chill. The stunningly low number was recorded under calm skies near Minnesota's border with Canada, the weather service said.

"It's just getting colder and colder," said Doreen Greenwood-Garson, chief of the Gerritsen Beach Fire Department in Brooklyn, New York, where about 200 homes slammed by Sandy in October are still without heat.

Nightly the volunteer department has loaded its ambulance with donated space heaters and free hot meals and delivered them to shut-ins, said Greenwood-Garson, a real estate broker. Already it has given away a total of 60 space heaters and each night about 50 meals, she said.

In Long Beach on New York's Long Island, the Martin Luther King Center, a community gathering spot, ran out of donated space heaters, said James Hodge, a city employee who is coordinating relief efforts there and is without heat in his own home.

"I even gave out my own personal heaters that I was sleeping with," Hodge said.

He and his two brothers have been sleeping in several layers of clothes under piles of blankets near pots of hot water, their breath still visible in the cold of their home.

The center has been hosting more than 100 people during the day who needed a warm place to stay for a few hours, particularly school-children, who are being provided hot food, Hodge said.

Hodge said he was concerned that some people still suffering from the storm's damage may be increasingly reluctant to seek help as time went on.

"Do I ask three months later for a sweater?" he said. "Do I ask for some food three months later when everyone thinks I'm fine, when I should be back on my feet? I think some people suffer from not asking because they're worried about who's going to question them."

Temperatures were expected to rise a bit when a snowstorm was predicted for Friday to blanket Midwestern and Atlantic coastal states, according to meteorologist Alex Sosnowski of Accuweather.com.

A blizzard of tweets hit Twitter after steam from cooling stacks of a nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh near the Ohio border, met the cold snap on Tuesday.

As a result, snow fell over area homes for about six hours, said Fred McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Ground-level cold air met the stacks' warm moist air, forming a cloud that produced snowflakes, he said.

"Don't eat glowing snow!" Philadelphia Daily News reporter David Murphy jokingly wrote on Twitter.

Accuweather.com noted the Shippingport snow was neither fluorescent nor radioactive.

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