Problems grow for stranded E. Coast travelers
NEW YORK — when Angela Madsen was pulled off her plane and her wheelchair stayed on board, she knew she was in for a rough night. the paraplegic athlete struggled to get into the restrooms at Kennedy Airport. Turning the wheels on her borrowed wheelchair strained her shoulders. Sleeping was impossible."I actually got out of it and laid on the floor," Madsen said.it was, she said, a miserable time — one that was shared by millions of people Monday, in travails big and small, serious and surreal, after the blizzard of December 2010 sucker-punched the northeastern U.S. during one of the busiest travel days of the year.Air travel in the nation's busiest airspace nearly shut down, and thousands of stranded passengers turned terminals into open-air hotels while they waited for planes to take off and land on plowed runways. Flights slowly resumed, although experts said it would likely take several days to rebook all the displaced passengers.A tractor-trailer skidded off a road and smashed into a house in Maine. A woman went into labor on a New Jersey highway, causing a traffic jam that stranded 30 vehicles. Rails on the normally reliable New York subway shorted out. Winds topping 65 mph ripped power lines, leaving tens of thousands of people in the dark across New England.This storm didn't play fair, burying the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow on a holiday weekend when everyone seemed to be out of town, groggy with holiday cheer or just unprepared.in New York, residents outside Manhattan complained of a sluggish response by snowplow crews who still hadn't finished clearing the streets. State Sen. Carl Kruger, a Democrat who represents Brooklyn, called the city's response a "colossal failure." fire officials said the unplowed streets and abandoned cars made it harder to respond to emergencies, including a five-alarm, wind-whipped blaze at a Queens apartment building Monday night.A testy Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city's cleanup effort, saying the crews were being slowed down by abandoned cars on the streets."There's no reason for everybody to panic," he said. "our city is doing exactly what you'd want it to do."after spending Sunday night on airport floors, thousands of bleary-eyed travelers spent Monday standing in lines, begging for flights, fighting for taxis and hunting for hotel rooms.Little problems quickly snowballed: on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway, a motorist struggled to find the shoulder of the road after his wife went into labor, causing a traffic jam that eventually stranded 30 vehicles, state trooper Chris Menello said. among them were two buses full of people returning from Atlantic City.two of the New York area's major airports — LaGuardia and Kennedy — began to receive inbound flights Monday night. Newark Liberty began receiving inbound flights this morning. Hundreds of flights were canceled at all three airports.the storm, which dumped 20 inches of snow in Central Park on Sunday, was New York City's sixth-worst since record-keeping began in 1869, said Adrienne Leptich, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. A February 2006 storm dropped 26.9 inches of snow on Central Park, breaking the previous record, set in 1947, by half an inch.the storm was sprawling and fickle, dropping 29 inches on Staten Island; 32 on Rahway, N.J.; 10 on Franklin, S.C., about 12 on Philadelphia; and 19 in South Boston but only 6.5 in West Hartford, Conn., according to the Weather Service.