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Nor'easter Blamed For 11-Year-Old's Death As Winds Take Down Trees & Power Lines

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A powerful Nor'easter that knocked down trees and power lines across the Tri-State Area is now blamed for at least one death in New York.

An 11-year-old boy was killed when a tree fell through his Putnam County home just after noon Friday.

Emergency crews raced to save the child, but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Falling trees claimed at least four other lives up and down the East Coast.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a travel advisory Friday for areas north of New York City. The governor said all high profile vehicles and motorcycles have also been banned from the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge until further notice due to the winds.

"With the threat of high winds and dangerous driving conditions through this evening, I have issued a travel advisory so plows, utility crews and first responders are able to do their jobs and keep New Yorkers safe," Cuomo said in a statement. "We continue to work to keep roads clear and if you do not have to travel today, I encourage you to stay off the roads."

Similar bans were in place on the Throgs Neck, Whitestone and Verrazano bridges. The bans prompted reports of considerable gridlock.

Interstate 95 South looked like a parking lot along the Bronx/Westchester border, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported. Trucks were just barely inching along.

"It's rough. I don't know what's going on," one driver said.

"When we got like two miles from here, it just stopped dead. We were going into Manhattan, but we're turning back," Scott Forte, of New Haven, said. 

Bill Watts sat in traffic on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, trying to get to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

"It normally takes me 15 minutes to get to the bridge. It took me four and a half hours," he said.

Overall, it was a stressful night of commuting for many.

"It's ridiculous, ridiculous," one woman said.

Whipping winds caused one truck to tip over around 10 a.m. in the Rockland-bound lanes of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Hours later, a tractor-trailer toppled over in the Westchester-bound lanes.

Bill Morris witnessed another tractor-trailer come dangerously close to other drivers.

"I have not seen the wind at that strength on any bridge that I've traveled in my time," he said. "It was pretty intense."

Video shows the tractor-trailer inching along precariously, appearing like it's about to tip over.

"I wanted to stay away from that tractor-trailer. If it had tipped though, it would have tipped onto the cars that were next to it in the left hand lane," Morris said.

Four barges from the Tappan Zee Bridge construction project broke loose, Parkway Police said. Two of them had run aground.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a Code Blue warning, during which the Department of Homeless Services and the New York City Police Department aim to contact the city's most vulnerable people once every four hours to make sure they are safe from the frigid weather.

The Department of Buildings also ordered sites to secure cranes and outdoor equipment at risk of falling or blowing away.

Scaffolding on the Lower East Side crumbled in the wind, sending debris onto several cars on Broome Street. Firefighters said no one was hurt.

Mother Nature's dangerous, whipping winds brought down a monster of a tree on East 34th Street near Avenue J in Flatbush, Brooklyn. 

People who live in the area said it was an old tree, but they didn't expect it to come down like this.

"I was shocked," Sharisse Johnson told CBS2's Lisa Rozner. "My nephew actually called me and said, 'Auntie, the house was shaking.'"

The entire block was left shaken and worried about other trees falling as winds persist overnight.

Earlier in the day, high tide pulled the waters of Jamaica Bay inland, overflowing through east East 6th Road in Broad Channel.

Resident Kenny Johnson knows from experience that heavy rains cause the sewers on his neighborhood to bubble with overflow, flooding out the street.

"The gurgling over there, that's the sewer," he told CBS2's Magdalena Doris. "That's the sewer. It's tough."

The neighborhood of Broad Channel is just a few blocks wide and surrounded by water.

But for everyone who bundles up and hunkers down, there's always that one guy. Duncan James ditched the rain gear in favor of a wet suit. Taking advantage of his beachfront home in the Rockaways he was out enjoying a desolate surf day.

"They're good conditions," he said.

Elsewhere in Queens, a large tree crashed down right on top of a white car that was parked in St. Albans, CBS2's Cindy Hsu reported. The trunk reached all the way across Nashville Street into a front yard.

It brought down several power lines and snapped a utility pole.

Police blocked the area off and shut down roads, telling CBS2 the pole would likely come down from the high winds and bring more lines with it.

Neighbors in the area said they had been without power since about noon.

Blocks away, Hsu found more trees down, along with what was left of a front porch overhang that blew off, flew over the roof and landed in the backyard. Fences were blown all over the place, scattered into people's yards.

"The weather is really bad and it blew down our fence. My dad had to try to put it back up, but the wind it just couldn't," one teen said.

Over in Bayside, people were afraid to park on 16th Avenue near 212th Street where two trees trapped several parked cars.

"I don't believe it," one passerby said.

Joe Oliveri said he's lucky to have survived. One of the oaks destroyed his vehicle just minutes after he parked.

"I moved it from a few spots away, because I didn't like the way a tree branch was waving in the breeze," he said.

But now, "it's gone."

"Once the roof is caved in like that, they total the car," he said.

Throughout the neighborhood, other cars were smashed in, trees fell on lawns and tackled entire streets – requiring police to block traffic on 32nd Avenue near Francis Lewis Boulevard. Traffic lights were also out.

"The wind is terrible. It's really, really bad and it's not safe," said one woman.

In Rockland County, strong winds toppled trees, damaging homes and cars and causing power outages. The wind gusts were strong enough to bring one tree down onto two cars in Upper Nyack, while another tree clipped the house next door.

Homeowner Tom Kelley was outside at the time and told CBS2's Dave Carlin it was a close call.

"Right in front of that door, looking out, about to go out and get a plastic cover that had blown for the generator," he said. "I was about to walk over there, right in the path of the thing."

In Stony Point, another tree crashed onto Route 9 right in front of a school bus, prompting widespread power outages. Fortunately, there were no kids on board.

"I mean, it's really heavy, really bad news," Stony Point resident Ken Tomlins said.

Tomlin is the landlord of a nine-unit apartment building, where all of his tenants were without electricity.

"We heard a crash, and then the power just went out," owner of Stony Point Auto Care Eric Knight said. "The whole business is out today, maybe tomorrow. But we've been here forever, been here 80 years. This isn't going to slow us down."

Utility workers from Rye in Westchester to Old Mountain Road in Upper Nyack were lifted into potential danger, quickly untangling the source of the chaos before moving on. It's a long night ahead for them.

Police also reported downed wires on Route 304 at Johnson's Lane in New City.

In Bronxville, police responded to numerous calls of trees and live power lines down. Officials urged residents without power to contact Con Ed at 1-800-75-CONED. Numerous trees were down and traffic signals were disrupted. Police there urged residents to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

Trees Down In Bronxville
The Nor'easter toppled this tree in Bronxville, NY. (credit: Bronxville Police)

The Port Authority tweeted that the storm had caused hundreds of flight cancellations across the region Friday and urged travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

Delta, Southwest, JetBlue and American Airlines were allowing travelers to change their Friday and Saturday flights ahead of time to avoid delays and cancellations.

Meanwhile, Amtrak temporarily suspended service along the Northeast Corridor due to "multiple weather issues."

Storm-related problems also caused service disruptions for passengers at Penn Station during the evening commute.

Snow was also an issue Friday with the heaviest snowfall expected to be in parts of western New York into northern Pennsylvania, with 8 to 12 inches likely.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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