A powerful East Coast blizzard marooned thousands of would-be air, rail and road travelers Monday, shutting down major airports and rail lines for a second day, stranding buses on buried highways, and forcing New York City subway riders to spend a cold night in unheated trains.
Officials urged anyone who did not have to drive to stay off roads in the region, where high winds pushed snow into deep drifts across streets, railroads and runways. More than two feet of snow had fallen in some areas by Monday morning.
The New York area took the brunt of a storm that meandered across the country over the Christmas weekend before plowing up the East Coast. States of emergency were declared in at least six states from the Carolinas on north. Jets got snowed in on the tarmac or never left the gate.
"People are exhausted. ... They want to get home," said Eric Schorr, 22, who was trying to get from New York City to Tel Aviv on Sunday night but ended up spending about nine hours stuck on the tarmac at Kennedy Airport, finally ending back in the airport around 3 a.m. His flight was rescheduled for 7 p.m.
Similar delays have produced outrage in the past, but Schorr said he and his fellow travelers were "as comfortable as you can be on a plane," with the crew passing out drinks and serving dinner.
Authorities had to rescue hundreds of motorists across the region, including about 100 people trying to get back to New York from a gambling trip to Atlantic City, some of them diabetic or elderly. As 5-foot drifts piled up on the road, state troopers took water and food to passengers who were feeling ill.
"Most of the people are pretty calm, but they are getting antsy," state trooper Chris Menello, who raided his personal stash of food for the gamblers, said early Monday as the rescues unfolded in Monmouth County.
Wind gusts as high as 80 mph knocked out power to thousands. Airlines scrambled to rebook passengers on thousands of canceled flights but said they didn't expect normal service to resume until later in the week. Amtrak service was trickling back after being knocked out from New York to Boston.
Hundreds of cold, hungry and tired air passengers spent the night at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports. Officials said they were provided blankets and cots, but some travelers were not allowed to retrieve their checked luggage, leaving them with no extra clothing or toiletries.
Jason Cochran, of Manhattan, boarded his flight to London at 6 p.m. Sunday at Kennedy, but it missed its takeoff window as high winds set in, he said. Passengers were told they would be sent to hotels but were given only food vouchers — and then vendors began running out of provisions. Source : http://news.yahoo.com , Associated Press