A blizzard brings together neighbors in the Northeast
From shoveling to playing Monopoly, snow packs a big impact in cold-front country.
NEW YORK — On a scale of one to 10, seven-year-old Song Griffin-Grenoble rates this winter weekend as a 10. As the snow started to fall, she snuggled in with her mother on the big bed. They watched movies, played scrabble, and read stories. Then they baked cookies and made soup. She also made a maze in the snow.
"And I learned how to flip off my trampoline, and I learned how to do a handstand on my trampoline," says the Montclair, N.J., second-grader, who for an extra bonus saw the start of school delayed two hours on Monday.
As the Northeast shovels its way out from under as much as three feet of snow - and drifts twice that deep - people are also looking back at the way the Great Blizzard of 2005 impacted their lives.
In the best of cases, it brought families, friends, and neighbors closer together as they hunkered down inside to stay warm, or braved the freezing temperatures to help each other dig out. But in the worst, it took lives. As many as 14 deaths are now blamed on the weather.
But all in all, this was a storm the Northeast weathered very well, primarily because it was a weekend event and most people were aware it was coming.
States, cities, and towns had their plows ready. Families had stocked up on supplies and prepared to stay in for the duration. And because the snow fell mainly on the weekend, most didn't have to worry about school and work. It was, however, a tough few days for businesses.
"People don't come out; I wouldn't either," says Lawrence BonForte, the owner of La Madeleine Antiques in Lafayette, N.J., which was closed. "You lose the weekend, which is usually the busiest time, and you tend not to get it back. It's not like the next weekend is twice as busy."
Still, Mr. BonForte sees an upside to the storm's timing. "January is normally a slow month, so if it had to happen, this is probably the best time," he says. "Plus we had a nice day. We stayed home and cooked dinner and put a fire in the fireplace."
But he also spent much of Sunday shoveling, as did people from Pennsylvania to Vermont. And that, too, had upsides.
In Boston, Josef Brozek set out to tackle a wall of snow that obstructed the sidewalk outside his house, when a stranger approached him and offered to help. "I need some exercise, and just put my shovel away," the man told him.
Mr. Brozek initially found the offer a bit disconcerting. "In this crazy world, who would think someone would shovel for free?" But he accepted. "We shoveled side by side, then shook hands and he went back," says Brozek.
In New York, Vance Martin took advantage of the storm to bond with the city he loves. Bundled up in waterproof boots, two pairs of socks, jeans, sweat pants, thermals, a turtleneck, two sweat shirts, and a down jacket plus goggles, he walked from Midtown down to Battery Park, and then across the Brooklyn Bridge. "The cold weather is really good for you," he says. "I know it sounds crazy, but it's true."
But the weather did take a toll on thousands of people, stranding them at airports and hotels, and even at work. Tho Thong Kum, a nurse in New York, found herself stuck for the weekend because she couldn't get home to Rockland County, an hour away. Many other nurses couldn't get in. "I was prepared; I knew I was going to have to work all weekend," she says. "I called my kids and my husband every day and everything is OK. But I'm anxious to see them."
Others were stranded at airports in the Northeast or diverted to unexpected cities. Simon Jacobs and his family were supposed to have flown into Kennedy Airport on Saturday from England for a vacation. Instead, they found themselves diverted to Washington, D.C., where they spent the night at a Holiday Inn. "It was boring," he says, now bundled up in Times Square and determined to enjoy the rest of his vacation.
So, all in all, it was a memorable weekend for most people who got snowed under or snowed out. And it may not be the last storm of the year. "This will probably go down as the Blizzard of 2005," says Randy Cerveny, a meteorologist at Arizona State University in Tempe. "However, most of your really serious blizzards tend to occur in March, so you have a shot at another big storm later in the year."
That's no problem with seven-year-old Song. "Yes!" she says of the prospect.
• Staff writer Sara B. Miller contributed to this report from Boston.