Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mother thought her time was up

Wrote goodbye note to children

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FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. -- 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 91/2-year-old daughter, Sophia, she was "picture-perfect beautiful." And she advised her 51/2-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 blizzard 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 plows were mired in the snow or blocked by stuck cars, so emergency workers had to resort to snowmobiles to try to reach motorists. Four-wheel-drive vehicles, tractor-trailers and a couple of ambulances could be seen stranded along the roadway and ramps of the Long Island Expressway. Stuck drivers peeked out from time to time, running their cars intermittently to warm up as they waited for help.

About 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity as the storm swept through the northeastern United States and into Canada, where it combined with a fierce snowstorm that swept through Ontario and Quebec on Friday. On the East Coast, flights were grounded, boats were hoisted onto wharfs in some coastal communities and thousands were left without power.

Environment Canada blanketed Nova Scotia and much of eastern New Brunswick with blizzard warnings. About 30 to 40 centimetres of snow was expected in some regions by Sunday morning.

The combined system was also expected to bring 20 to 30 centimetres of snow to Prince Edward Island, said meteorologist Paula Sutherland.

In the U.S., roads across the New York-to-Boston corridor of roughly 25 million people were impassable. Cars were entombed by drifts. Some people found the wet, heavy snow packed so high against their homes they couldn't get their doors open.

At least five deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the overnight snowstorm.

Blowing with hurricane-force winds of more than 130 km/h in places, the storm hit hard along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between New York City and Maine. Milford., Conn., got 38 inches of snow, and Portland, Maine, recorded 31.9, shattering a 1979 record. Several communities in New York and across New England got more than two feet.

Still, the storm was not as bad as some of the forecasts led many to fear, and not as dire as the Blizzard of '78, used by longtime New Englanders as the benchmark by which all other winter storms are measured.

By midday Saturday, the National Weather Service reported preliminary snowfall totals of 24.9 inches in Boston, or fifth on the city's all-time list. Bradley Airport near Hartford, Conn., got 22 inches, for the No. 2 spot in the record books there.

Concord, N.H., got 24 inches of snow, the second-highest amount on record and a few inches short of the reading from the great Blizzard of 1888.

In New York, where Central Park recorded 11 inches, not even enough to make the Top 10 list, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city "dodged a bullet" and its streets were "in great shape."

The three major airports -- LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, N.J. -- were up and running by late morning after shutting down the evening before.

Most of the power outages were in Massachusetts, where more than 400,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark. In Rhode Island, a peak of around 180,000 customers lost power, or about one-third of the state.

-- The Associated Press, The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 10, 2013 A6

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