The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 9, 2013

New Yorkers tell of hours stranded on snowy roads

— FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Stranded for hours on a snow-covered road, Priscilla Arena prayed, took out a sheet of loose-leaf paper and wrote what she thought might be her last words to her husband and children.

She told her 9 1/2-year-old daughter, Sophia, she was "picture-perfect beautiful." And she advised her 5 ½-year-old son, John: "Remember all the things that mommy taught you. Never say you hate someone you love. Take pride in the things you do, especially your family. ... Don't get angry at the small things; it's a waste of precious time and energy. Realize that all people are different, but most people are good. "

"My love will never die — remember, always," she added.

Arena, who was rescued in an Army canvas truck after about 12 hours, was one of hundreds of drivers who spent a fearful, chilly night stuck on highways in a massive snowstorm that plastered New York's Long Island with more than 30 inches of snow, its ferocity taking many by surprise despite warnings to stay off the roads.

Even snowplows were mired in the snow or blocked by stuck cars, so emergency workers had to resort to snowmobiles to try to reach motorists. With many still stranded hours after the snow stopped, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged other communities to send plows to help dig out in eastern Long Island, which took the state's hardest hit by far in the massive Northeast storm.

About 200 people were stranded in cars Friday night in Suffolk County, which covers the eastern part of Long Island, and officials were asked why they didn't shut down highways in advance of the storm.

"The storm hit at a time when commuters were making their way back from the city, inching along" on the Long Island Expressway, said Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone. "The snow just swallowed them up. It came down so hard and so fast."

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