Stranded: Official Response to Snowstorm Angers Commuters

Airlines ground flights as storm dumps more than a foot of snow on East Coast.

Dec. 27, 2010— -- Many commuters seethed with anger and frustration today as they endured the aftereffects of a massive snowstorm that battered the Northeast Sunday, including a New York City subway rider who was stranded on a frigid above-ground train for nine hours.

"No heat, no nothing," he told ABC News affiliate WABC from a partially opened subway car door.

Another passenger had told the station earlier that riders were stuck in snow drifts on the A train for more than six hours, WABC reported.

With 20 inches of snow, it was the fifth largest storm in New York City history.

The Manhattan-bound train, near Kennedy Airport in Queens, carried a mix of commuters and airport travelers, he said.

"We can't move, we're stuck here and it's cold," John Hammerton said in a telephone interview with WABC.

Some passengers were in tears and others took the opportunity to sleep as they awaited word on their rescue, he said.

In another part of Queens, Carla Miranda of Flushing, 33, was stuck on a Manhattan-bound 7 train for two and a half hours today.

"I'm cold," she said, adding that she was heading to her job at an investment bank.

"We were stuck for two hours. While I was on the second stop they said the train I was on was temporarily suspended, so we just sat there"

She eventually changed her mind and went home.

Such challenges were not limited to the subway. Some New Jersey motorists were stranded overnight, starting at about 7:30 p.m.

"We can see the whole open highway in front of us and can't understand why they can't get plows in," a frustrated Carrie Eckart said this morning in a telephone interview with ABC News New York affiliate WABC, as she watched plows and emergency vehicles breeze through in the other direction.

"If New Jersey isn't closed, it should be," she added, explaining that hers was the lead car in a long line of west-bound vehicles stranded along Interstate 280.

All told, about 60 people were reportedly stranded in their cars on I-280 in West Orange overnight. They have since been rescued, according to state police.

They were among the victims of a post-holiday travel nightmare as airlines canceled more than 1,500 flights and others were stranded in cars and on public transportation.

New Jersey State Police Sgt. Steven Jones told ABC News Radio that plows are working to keep other major highways open.

"As fast as they go through, the wind is blowing it back onto the roadways, and that's pretty much the toughest part of travel right now is that wind," he said.

The winter blizzard dumped more than a foot of snow in New York City and New England, and nearly two dozen states east of the Mississippi are under severe weather warnings.

It is the same storm that brought flooding and non-stop rainfall to Southern California last week.

Back on the East Coast, two homes were destroyed by fire in coastal Scituate, Mass., this morning as flooding forced fire crews to use life rafts to rescue at least seven people, including a family of four, according to ABC News affiliate WCVB.

About 80 people were evacuated from their homes along the water.

Firefighters said they were having trouble battling the blazes because they were unable to get water hoses to the houses through the flooded streets, and high 40 mph wind gusts were creating the possibility that they could lose all the homes along that stretch of beachfront property, WCVB reported.

The storm has also dropped record snow in places such as Raleigh, N.C., (7.1 inches) and Atlanta (1.2 inches), according to the National Weather Service.

New York's Central Park has received about 17 inches and another 2 to 4 inches are still possible.

The extreme weather conditions were accompanied by thunder and lightning in Manhattan.

Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency.

New Jersey's acting governor, State Senate President Steve Sweeney, declared a state of emergency Sunday night as the state was expected to get a foot of snow by midday today.

Lyndhurst, N.J., has received a snowfall total of 29 inches.

Rhode Island and most of eastern Massachusetts, including Boston, have also issued a blizzardwarning, with 15 to 20 inches of snow expected.

Boston has declared a snow emergency, with another 8 to 12 inches of snow possible in addition to the 6 to 8 inches the city has already received.

Forecasters said the snow will continue to calm down in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York into the morning hours today.

Boston is expected to have snow until about noon while Portland, Maine, will see more than a foot a snow into the early and mid-afternoon.

But winds of 35 to 60 mph will continue until mid-afternoon in New York and Philadelphia, to southern New England.

In Cape Cod and coastal Maine, residents can expect winds between 60 to 70 mph.

Travel Chaos in the Air

While the snow slowly diminishes today, some airports are expected to reopen in the afternoon.

New York's LaGuardia is expected to reopen tomorrow and JFK at 4 p.m.

Newark International is expected to reopen at 4 p.m.

Airlines have grounded hundreds of flights traveling in and out of East Coast airport since Sunday, including 1,400 cancellations at New York City-area airports.

United Airlines canceled dozens of Sunday departures from Newark, Philadelphia, LaGuardia and JFK, Boston and other airports.

AirTran and Southwest Airlines also canceled flights, mostly in or out of Washington Dulles, Baltimore and Newark.

Delta Air Lines spokesman Kent Landers said the airline proactively canceled about 850 mainline and regional flights system wide today because of the weather.

"Most cancelations are concentrated from the Carolinas through New York," he said.

Continental Airlines released a statement saying, "We have pre-cancelled about two hundred and fifty flights and we are continuing to monitor the storm's progress and its full potential impact on our operations."

Stranded passengers can take solace in that most airlines are waiving fees for one-time changes in affected areas.

Passengers are being encouraged to make travel changes via the carriers' websites.

Airline passengers are feeling the effects of the storm all across the country.

"I had a flight at 1 p.m. and it's all right to get to Vegas but from Vegas to Philadelphia it's stopped," Adrian Mulroney told ABC News.

Unsafe Driving Conditions

Dozens of car crashes were reported across the south, according the Associated Press.

Authorities up and down the East Coast have asked drivers to stay off the roads as emergency crews try to clean up snow from the blizzard.

Preparations began across the mid-Atlantic region with Washington transportation officials pretreated roads and readied 200 salt trucks, plows and other pieces of equipment.

"If you can avoid being on the road, then don't travel, if you are flying, then try to book the next flight out," said John Townsend of the American Automobile Association.

But for private snow plow drivers like Evan Flynn, the storm is a late holiday gift.

"It's white money, that's basically the best I can describe it as, the more snow that falls the more money I see," Flynn told ABC News Radio.

Don't Travel Unless Necessary

Authorities and meteorologists encouraged people to stay indoors and not to brave the storm unless there is no other choice.

"Stay inside if you can. Don't travel if it's not absolutely necessary, and be careful," National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Struckmann said Sunday.

"The heaviest snow will be late this afternoon and this evening, probably before midnight, then it will start a general trend of improvement, but it will still be snowing most of the night," Struckmann said.

Sunday's Philadelphia Eagles-Minnesota Vikings game has been postponed until Tuesday night.

This follows the Vikings stadium roof collapse three weeks ago, and the game they were forced to play last week during a snowstorm at an outdoor college stadium.

Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., recently analyzed and mapped more than 560,000 fatal car ac.cidents across the U.S. Now you can search that information to check your holiday travel route for roads and ,pintersections that might be particularly dangerous because of drunk drivers, speeders and more.

ABC News' Max Golembo and the Associated Press contributed to this report