Snowstorm Derails Travelers Throughout Northeast
AUDIE CORNISH, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
It's a real mess out there if you're trying to get somewhere in the northeastern United States. People are digging out from a storm that dumped more than two feet of snow in some areas. Airports in New York and New Jersey were closed for 24 hours. More than a thousand flights have been canceled.
We'll hear more about the airports after this roundup from NPR's Tamara Keith.
TAMARA KEITH: If you've got nowhere to go, then New York City today is a winter wonderland.
Ms. TERRY McKENNA: Oh, you're building a snowman?
KEITH: Terry McKenna was out in Bryant Park with her kids. They wanted to go ice skating, but the outdoor rink was buried so they just played in the snow instead. She watched the blizzard paralyze the city with amazement.
Ms. McKENNA: We saw cars just, like, stop in the middle of Lexington Avenue and people just got out and left it because they couldn't go anywhere.
KEITH: Her friend Michelle Didner is visiting from Switzerland but grew up in New York City.
Ms. MICHELLE DIDNER: After a blizzard, I think New York is just the best.
KEITH: That is, unless you're trying to get out.
Eddie Hsaio lives in San Francisco. He was visiting his parents in New Jersey and had a flight out today. So he tried to take the subway to catch a train to JFK.
Mr. EDDIE HSAIO: They told everybody to get off the subway because it wasn't running.
KEITH: When we caught up with Hsaio by cell phone, he was on a bus in Brooklyn. It wasn't moving. It had been stuck in the snow for hours. But the bus driver kept it running and let people get on to stay warm. Hsaio did finally make it to the airport, where his airline, Virgin America, told him it wouldn't have a seat for him until January 4th.
American Airlines spokesman Ed Martelle says his airline is doing its best to accommodate customers.
Mr. ED MARTELLE (Spokesman, American Airlines): There are just so many people in the system right now because of holiday travel and then, of course, backed up by the snow and just - there are a whole lot of people that we're going to have to connect with and get flying again.
(Soundbite of snow plow)
KEITH: In Newton Corner, Massachusetts, this morning, just about the only people out and about were guys in the snow-removal business.
Joe Salabarria is on a plow crew. He worked through the night.
Mr. JOE SALABARRIA (Plow Crew): All night, yep, no sleep.
KEITH: Clearing parking lots, driveways and stairs, he started at 7 p.m. on Sunday, coming back to the same spots every time another four inches fell.
Mr. SALABARRIA: This is our fourth trip to Dunkin Donuts. Thank God for Dunkin Donuts.
KEITH: But he's not complaining.
Mr. SALABARRIA: Very busy, lot of good money, though, you know? White is green.
(Soundbite of laughter)
(Soundbite of car)
KEITH: Myron Kerstetter was doing just fine, driving his sedan down Bedford Street in downtown Stamford, Connecticut. Then he decided to turn left.
Mr. MYRON KERSTETTER: And I took a chance and tried to go in a side street. Some people have made it, it appears. But I'm stuck in the in-between.
(Soundbite of car stuck in snow)
KEITH: After a few minutes of spinning tires and rocking the car back and forth, he made it out. But many drivers to the west, in New Jersey, weren't so lucky. The state's acting governor, Steve Sweeney, says drivers abandoned hundreds of cars.
State Senate President STEVE SWEENEY (New Jersey): We knew it was going to be tough, but I still think people thought, well, I can beat it. You know, I can get home before it gets bad. And it just, you know, really overwhelmed the region very quickly.
KEITH: So he says stay inside, stay warm, spend another day with family. And maybe tomorrow, things will be back to normal.
Tamara Keith, NPR News.
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