Stranded N.Y. motorist was prepared for the worst in snowstorm
FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. — Stranded for hours on a snow-covered road, Priscilla Arena, 41, 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-year-old daughter, Sophia, that she was “picture-perfect beautiful.” And she advised her boy, John, 5: “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. ... Realize that all people are different, but most people are good.”
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 blizzard that plastered New York's Long Island with more than 30 inches of snow.
Even plows were mired in the snow or blocked by stuck cars, so emergency workers had to resort to snowmobiles to try to reach motorists. Stuck drivers peeked out from time to time, running their cars intermittently to warm up as they waited for help.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials were asked why they did not act to shut down major highways in Long Island in advance of the storm, especially given the sprawling area's reputation for gridlock.
“It's not an easy call,” said Cuomo, who noted that people wanted to get home and that officials had warned them to take precautions because the worst of the snow could start by the evening rush hour.
Some workers did not have the option of taking off early Friday, Arena noted. The sales account manager headed home fabout 4 p.m. She soon found her sport utility vehicle stuck on a road in nearby Farmingville.
“Even though we would dig ourselves out and push forward, the snow kept piling, and therefore we all got stuck, all of us,” she recalled later at Brookhaven Town Hall, where several dozen stranded motorists were taken after being rescued.
Many others opted to stay with their cars.