LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - As the
muted ends of a powerful winter storm that has killed more than a dozen
people plodded through the Northeast, many in Arkansas were seeking
warmth and shelter against the cold prospect of life without electricity
into the new year.
A Christmas Day blizzard dumped
more than 15 inches of snow on the state, causing massive damage to
power lines that have affected more than 200,000 customers.
With the bleak word from the
state's largest utility that the lights could be out until after the
start of the new year, many residents who awoke snowbound Wednesday
morning found themselves jamming the city's hotel rooms by Thursday
"I'm coping with hot toddies and
peanuts," said Lynda Johnson, who lined up a series of hotel stays
through hotels.com to make it at least through Saturday night. She has
already been to the movies — she saw "Django Unchained" — and checked in
with neighbors multiple times to see if the lights are back on.
Deena Brazell spent a night in her car for warmth, though she hadn't planned it that way.
"Everything in the apartment is
electric. I stayed in the apartment the first night. After that, it got
cold really quick," she said. "I went out to charge the phone and fell
asleep, then I just decided to stay."
After the storm's peak early
Wednesday, homes and businesses from border-to-border had lost power.
Johnson, and several others, said they were hoping the power would be
back on Wednesday after spending Christmas night in the dark. Butut then
the president of the state's largest utility announced that some of the
outages would persist at least into New Year's Day. Little Rock was
among the cities hardest hit.
"We spent the first night at home
and turned on the fireplace, but it doesn't give off a lot of heat,"
said Kathy Garner, who sought refuge at her sister and brother-in-law's
house in Maumelle, a Little Rock suburb.
In a typical year, tornadoes
bring Arkansas' worst weather, but the damage is isolated and linemen
have a relatively easy time fixing the power grid.
This week's storm was epic by
comparison, and despite the jokes — "In Wisconsin, we call this Tuesday"
— as of Thursday night there was more snow on the ground in Little Rock
"You run out of money fast,"
Johnson said. "The things you had planned to do, you can't do. You need
food, clothing and shelter. Since I'm not home, I have to find someplace
for shelter. Then you have to find something to eat."
The storm system responsible for
the misery roared out of the Rockies early Tuesday with blizzard
conditions in southwestern Oklahoma and tornadoes along the Gulf Coast.
After sweeping across Arkansas,
giving Little Rock its first white Christmas since 1926, it rolled into
the Midwest and Northeast before moving on to Canada. Up to 20 inches of
snow fell in the Adirondacks of New York; Indianapolis had 7.5 inches,
its greatest snowfall in four years; and 4-6 inches fell in and around
"I'm going to be shoveling all
day, just trying to keep up with the snow, which is impossible," said
Dale Lamprey, clearing the sidewalk outside the legislative office
building near the New Hampshire Statehouse.
Nationwide, at least 17 people
died because of the ice, snow and wind. Deaths from wind-toppled trees
also were reported in Texas and Louisiana, but car crashes caused most
of the fatalities.
A Michigan woman who was riding
in a car that struck a tree and two people riding in a car that slid
across the center line of a road in Arkansas and hit another vehicle.
Two people were killed in
Kentucky crashes, a New York man was killed after his pickup truck
skidded on an icy road in northwest Pennsylvania, and an Ohio teenager
died after losing control of her car and smashing into an oncoming
Forty-two students traveling to
London and Dublin were stuck in the Nashville, Tenn., airport thanks to
poor weather in the Northeast. The frustrated students, from
universities in Tennessee and Kentucky, were supposed to leave Wednesday
and arrive in London on Thursday.
"It's a two-week program, so it's shortened already," said Joe Woolley, spokesman for the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad.
Farther east, the storm knocked
out power to more than 7,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. In New
Jersey, gusts of more than 70 mph were recorded along the coast, and the
weather service issued a flood warning for some coastal areas. There
were about 800 power outages in Vermont, but only a handful in
neighboring New Hampshire.
Back in Arkansas, utility workers
struggling in freezing temperatures restored power to nearly a third of
their customers that lost power during the Christmas storm, but that
still meant that more than 135,000 homes and businesses were in the dark
as forecasters predicted another round of freezing rain for Friday.
"You just want to be home," Garner said at her sister's house. "You just
want to be in your own bed. There's nothing like the comfort of your
Thursday, December 12 2013 12:47 PM EST2013-12-12 17:47:16 GMT
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Wednesday, December 11 2013 9:36 AM EST2013-12-11 14:36:12 GMT
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Friday, December 13 2013 11:04 AM EST2013-12-13 16:04:16 GMT
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