Shovels, skis or a drink: tales from a snowstorm

Associated Press
A woman prepares to launch her child down a snow-covered street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. The Boston area received about two feet of snow from a winter storm. A howling storm across the Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in 1 to 3 feet of snow Saturday, stranding motorists on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't get their doors open. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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From New Jersey to Maine, millions of people, many with Superstorm Sandy still fresh in their minds, dug out from underneath mounds of snow Saturday.

Many were left with serious consequences. Hundreds of thousands lost power, and on New York's Long Island, abandoned cars littered the roadways, left by people who could not make it home Friday night as the storm intensified.

Others simply had a few inches to clear from their cars and sidewalks. But mostly, people soldiered on, planning cocktail hours after clearing waist-high snow, cross-country skiing down narrow streets and even braving 4-inch stiletto heels to stay chic during New York Fashion Week. A few of their stories:

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Randle Roper and Jacob Olson have been waiting for a blizzard for a long, long time.

Roper, 41, and Olson, 31, moved to downtown Providence, R.I., from Los Angeles two years ago.

"We've been waiting for this snow forever," Roper said.

The two spent days waiting with childlike excitement for the storm, hoping to use the snow boogieboards they bought when they heard there would be substantial snowfall.

"We're looking for the perfect hill," said Olson, who grew up in the Marshall Islands and is completely unfamiliar with snow.

"I love it," he said. "It's so much fun."

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Angel Nunez stood with one foot on the bottom step of his row house in Jersey City, N.J., ready to scoop another mound of snow.

Nunez wanted to clear the steps quickly, and well; his upstairs neighbor is due to have a baby any day, and he wanted to make sure she could get out safely if necessary.

Jersey City only got about 5 inches of snow. But after two years of shovels getting dusty and people forgetting what a typical Jersey winter is like, the snow came as somewhat of a surprise.

"We got a little spoiled from the last few years of not having as much snow. So it comes as a little bit of a shock, but it's February, so we should be expecting it," He said.

"But I think this is enough. This will do it for the rest of the year for me."

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The storm didn't stop the chic from attending — and dressing the part for — New York Fashion Week. At the Nicole Miller show, blogger Stephanie Ospina, of New York, was wearing her pointy-toe stilettos pumps with bare legs.

She thought about not going to shows Friday but decided "I'm going to go to as many as I can. New Yorkers are that way."

She did wear boots — not quite snow boots since they were 3-inch wedge heel shearling boots to the Lincoln Center tents — and changed once she got inside.

Alyssa Montemurro, 22, said her 4-inch heels were a workplace necessity. She didn't bring boots.

Why? "I am 5-foot-3 on a good day, and when you're interviewing models backstage it's best to be somewhere near their face level."

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In Boston, one 16-ton city snowplow almost got stuck on one street and had to pull back while a frontend loader was called in to clear it.

"This is bad, this is really bad," said the plow driver, Domenic DePina, who has worked for the city public works department for more than four years.

Complaints could be heard on the plow's communication radio about people around the city shoveling or blowing snow back into the street, which officials warned against.

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A pirate flag snapped in the gale-force winds outside Eileen O'Brien's house in Sagamore Beach, Mass.

O'Brien stood outside in the gusts, trying to clear heavy snow from her deck for fear it might collapse.

The town was without power, and O'Brien said the temperature inside was falling fast.

"My thermostat keeps dropping," she said. "Right now it's 54 inside, and I don't have any wood. There's nothing I can do to keep warm except maybe start the grill and make some coffee."

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Scott Bauer and his wife, Stacey, were digging out from several feet of snow at their rental house in Fairfield, Conn., near the shore. It's their second rental home they've lived in since Superstorm Sandy destroyed their home.

Bauer, who is 40 and in medical sales, said they plan to build a new elevated house and hope to move in by October.

They didn't lose power or get flooded in this storm, and Bauer, who has two sons, was upbeat, noting his family is healthy and are rebuilding.

"We've already been through the up-and-down rollercoaster of emotions with losing our home and the kids moving twice now," he said. "I think they are hardened by the storm, so they're definitely a little tougher now, and they realize that this really isn't that bad."

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Mike McNamara, 55, CEO of a Bronx charter school, left his downhill skis in Colorado when he moved to New York recently.

"But I brought my cross country skis — just in case there was enough snow in New York City, like I'd seen on TV."

That day came Saturday. The Pennsylvania native flashed a grin as he pushed off with his poles across Central Park's Sheep Meadow.

The 15-acre preserve, blanketed with nearly a foot of snow, became a playground for frolicking dogs and for children building snowmen and making angels under a bright sun.

But this was still New York City, "and it's hard to find a spot that's not fenced in." That includes Sheep Meadow, its fence topped with snow against a postcard-perfect view of Manhattan's skyline.

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Forget shopping for groceries or shovels. At one store in Abington, Mass., people had one thing on their mind: a drink.

Customers were lined up 10 deep ahead of the storm at Rosie's Liquors, snapping up 30-packs of beer, bottles of wine and every single bottle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.

Manager Kristen Brown said the store had five times its typical sales Thursday and Friday.

"It has been crazy," Brown said. "We've been absolutely slammed. It's almost been like Christmas here."

"A lot of people are saying, 'I'm going to be stuck with my family all weekend. I need something to do.'"

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Associated Press writers Katie Zezima in Jersey City, N.J.; Clarke Canfield in Portland, Maine; John Christoffersen in Fairfield, Conn.; Verena Dobnik, Leanne Italie, Karen Matthews, AP Radio correspondent Julie Walker and AP Fashion Writer Samantha Critchell in New York; Rodrique Ngowi in Boston; Erika Niedowski in Providence, R.I.; Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H.; Bill Kole in Sagamore Beach, Mass., contributed to this report.

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