Tales From A Blizzard: Stranded At The Airport

Reporter Kate O'Connell was supposed to be winging her way to Australia. Instead, the blizzard that hit the Northeast has her grounded at Kennedy Airport in New York. She sends us this postcard.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The East Coast blizzard has buried parts of New England and New York in more than two feet of snow. Roads remain closed in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed. Reporter Kate O'Connell of member station WXXI arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to find that her flight home to Australia was cancelled. She sent this postcard from a night at JFK.

KATE O'CONNELL, BYLINE: By 10 P.M., the chaos of cancelled flights, angry passengers and helpless airline staff has passed, and only a few remain to tough out the night. Terminal 4 has been transformed into a homeless shelter of sorts. Stranded passengers snooze in chairs in the food court, they're curled up in the corners on the floor hugging their luggage. Nina Isgro has been snoozing in a chair.

NINA ISGRO: There is nowhere to sleep or to lay for, you know, half an hour. To lay down, where do you lay down? There is not even carpet. To me, it's crazy.

O'CONNELL: Isgro says it's too expensive to book a hotel near the airport and she doesn't want to miss the chance to get on the first flight home to Columbus, Ohio. But JFK's Terminal 4 doesn't make much of a hotel. The hospital-likes fluorescence of the lights blaze on regardless of the hour, and thanks to the blizzard, most of the shops, cafes and bars are closed.

But the slightly depressing prospect of sleeping on an airport floor hasn't dampened everyone's spirits. Shane Pierre is a phys-ed teacher on his way to Carnival in Trinidad.

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SHANE PIERRE: We actually, at the airport, bonding with some new friends from Jamaica and other Trini friends and Australian and India and is just like a family and we just having fun.

O'CONNELL: Pierre's going to get to know his new friends pretty well. No one knows how long we'll be here. For NPR News, I'm Kate O'Connell at John F. Kennedy Airport, New York.

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SIMON: Happy waiting to them all. You're listening to NPR News.

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