1917/18 - Cold Wave In a Neutral US

In late Dec 1917 America was hit by the coldest weather for a century, which lasted for the next two months. Baltimore harbour was blocked by ice three feet thick, and ships were stranded in NYC and other ports because bunker coal could not reach them. Rail transport was crippled by shortage of fuel and (due too the cold) inability to produce a head of stea. Even where coal was on hand the coals were frozen solidly together and had to be steamed apart.

The government stepped in under various war regulations. Fuel Administrator Henry A Garfield ordered the closure of virtually all factories east of the Mississipi, and under another war regulation, key railroads were ordered to carry only food, coal and approved war material.

Things finally eased off at the end of February with the arrival of milder weather. However, what would have happened had the US been still neutral, hence no war regulations in force? National diaster? Or would hings habeen sorted out quicker had the government not butted in? Any thoughts?
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