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Massachusetts storm cleanup costs 11-year-old his life

A Boston snow machine operator informs a couple that they will need to shovel their car out all over again after he clears the snow from their unplowed street in Boston Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.

Winslow Townson/AP

The cleanup from the snowstorm that blanketed Eastern Canada and the northeastern United States proved to be almost as dangerous as the storm itself, with reports of several deaths brought on by snow shovelling and efforts to stay warm, including a tragic accident involving an 11-year-old Massachusetts boy.

And though the worst of the storm – which prompted the governor of Massachusetts to declare a state of emergency and brought Category 2 hurricane winds to Nova Scotia – was over for most of the region, Environment Canada was predicting another 20 centimetres for Newfoundland late Sunday afternoon, adding to the 33 centimetres already covering the island province.

On Saturday in the Boston suburb of Dorchester, a father and his son were digging out the family car when the boy retreated into the vehicle to keep warm. Unbeknownst to the father, a snowbank was blocking the exhaust pipe, causing the fumes to be funnelled back into the car, poisoning the boy with carbon monoxide. A firefighter who lived nearby and rushed to the scene told The Associated Press that he found the boy's father leaning against a pile of snow and that he believed the father went into respiratory arrest when he discovered what had happened to his son. Both were rushed to hospital where the boy was pronounced dead.

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"I don't know how long the boy was in the car, at some point the father was still working and was unaware of the boy's condition," Octavius Rowe, the firefighter, told AP. "So very, very unfortunate."

The New York Times reported that there were "several" other deaths involving carbon monoxide in the northeastern United States, as well as a number of cases where elderly people died after struggling to shovel snow from their driveways and cars. At least two people also died in Southwestern Ontario after over-exerting themselves during snow shovelling, The Canadian Press reported.

For governments, the storm sparked an organizational frenzy, as city, provincial and state governments raced to get snow-removal resources to the areas in need. More than one third of New York state's snow-removal equipment – which included more than 400 plowing trucks and more than 100 snowblowers, loaders and backhoes – as well as 1,000 extra workers were dispatched to eastern Long Island by Governor Andrew Cuomo. "The massive amount of snow left behind effectively shut down the entire region," Mr. Cuomo said.

At Toronto Pearson International Airport, which received an estimated 30 centimetres over Thursday and Friday, the cancellation and delay of numerous flights caused havoc across the country.

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