People across the Northeast US deal with snowstorm

AP News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2015 10:04 PM
People across the Northeast US deal with snowstorm

The snowstorm that pounded some areas of the Northeast and barely skimmed others left some residents battling drifts , while others found themselves surprised and a little disappointed by the less-than-predicted amount of white stuff. Some took advantage of the storm-abandoned New York City streets to have a little fun.

Here are some of their stories:

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Snowdrifts piled up against Boston's historic Faneuil Hall, where Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty stoked the fires of rebellion.

But adjacent Quincy Market, usually bustling with tourists, was populated only by a few city workers clearing snow from the cobblestones.

Snow blanketed Boston Common, where John Joy, 28, pulled girlfriend Brooke Finan, on a sled in search of coffee. "It's definitely a great way to get around town. It was really fun to experience the blizzard like that," she said.

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Bianca Hillier and Eloise Pollard took advantage of the snowstorm shutdown to do something they never envisioned: making snow angels on a normally busy stretch of Manhattan's Tenth Avenue at West 34th Street.

"We thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do that in the street," said Hillier, of Columbus, Ohio, an Ohio University journalism student who's in New York for an internship. She and Pollard, a recent university graduate from London who's in New York volunteering with a charity.

The two laughed as they lay down and formed angel designs in a pristine patch of snow in a deserted traffic lane around 8 a.m., when it would usually be full of cars and trucks coming from the nearby Lincoln Tunnel.

Pollard had been excited by the fearsome forecast. "I really wanted 20 inches," she said, noting that she'd never experienced such a storm — or a reaction by officials — in London.

"They would never shut down the city or anything like that," she said.

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Sarah and Andrew Browning were not expecting to have their baby until Valentine's Day, so when the Farmington, Connecticut, woman began having contractions Monday, she assumed it was false labor.

As the Northeast blizzard grew worse, so did her contractions. Andrew Browning, a pastor at the New Hope Baptist Church in Torrington, says he and his wife began praying for guidance.

"We prayed that the Lord would make it clear which way we should go, whether we should just sit it out or whether we should go out and brave this," he said.

About 10 minutes later, his wife's water broke.

Browning said he was unsure about breaking the governor's travel ban, so he called 911. He said the dispatcher assured him it would be all right for him to drive to the Hospital of Central Connecticut in nearby New Britain and emergency crews would respond if they got into any trouble.

Browning says it took them about 40 minutes to make what normally is a 15-minute trip.

"I was driving as slow as you can," he said. "We got lucky on a couple of roads, we were able to come behind plows."

The Brownings arrived at the hospital at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Graham Michael Browning was born at 8:50 a.m., weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces.

Andrew Browning, 25, said mother and baby are both doing well.

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Robert Lavallee stepped out of the Bagel Works coffee shop on Concord, New Hampshire's all-but deserted Main Street Tuesday morning. Ribbons of snow blew horizontally from north to south and Lavallee was loving it.

"I would say to people, 'Get outside and walk around in the middle of this beautiful, wonderful stuff,'" said Lavallee, a 26-year-old self-employed contractor who was headed to work clearing snow. "It just feels like a blanket. It almost makes me feel tucked in."

Lavallee said he could appreciate the dire warnings even if the storm doesn't match expectations.

"I think you should err on the side of caution but also be considerate of the other possibilities," Lavallee said.

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Bob Preston is a real estate agent in Seabrook, New Hampshire, a coastal town that was getting strafed by high winds and heavy snow Tuesday afternoon. Making his rounds to check on waterfront properties, he came up with one assessment.

"You've got to be crazy to be out," Preston said. "The roads are terrible. It's so easy to get stuck. You hit the snowdrifts everywhere. It's not unusual to see 5-, 6-, 7-foot snowdrifts in some of the driveways."

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Framingham was one of the hardest hit communities in Massachusetts, with a report of 31.5 inches of snow on the ground by midafternoon and the streets largely deserted. But that didn't stop Oudy Elias, manager of Framingham Automotive, from opening his gas station Tuesday afternoon to take care of some regular clients, including highway department vehicles and private plow drivers.

"That's all I can do," said Elias, who had only regular unleaded to sell. "I didn't want to let my customers down."

As he filled his tank, plow driver Fabio Silva said he had been on the road since 1 a.m., and had already plowed more than two dozen of his customers multiple times as the snow kept falling.

"I'm not going to stop right now," said Silva, asked when he might be able to take a break.

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The snowstorm is over but New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is warning about a "furious hoarfrost bearing down upon us."

Thankfully, he was kidding.

De Blasio entertained reporters in City Hall on Tuesday by doing a dramatic reading of an article from the satirical newspaper The Onion which depicts the mayor warning New Yorkers about a killer storm.

He read the entire 150-word story which included instructions to "clutch your babes close to your breast" before the storm arrives.

The over-dramatic Onion story ran online Monday in the hours before the storm arrived.

In the satirical piece, de Blasio urged New Yorkers to "Reconcile yourself with your God" before the blizzard enveloped the nation's largest city.

In reality, the storm largely missed New York City.

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Associated Press writers Michelle R. Smith in Providence; Rhode Island; Jennifer Peltz and Verena Dobnik in New York City; Alanna Durkin in Augusta, Maine; Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine; Bob Salsberg in Boston, Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford and Rik Stevens in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.