HAMBURG, Pa. – National Guardsmen towed stranded vehicles from highways and officials toiled to clear roads early Friday following a monster storm that has been blamed for at least 15 deaths.
The work continued a day after Guardsmen in Humvees ferried food, fuel and baby supplies to hundreds of motorists stranded on a 50-mile stretch of highway for nearly a day.
A traffic jam on an icy, hilly section of Interstate 78 in eastern Pennsylvania forced authorities to also shut down portions of I-81 and I-80 as they struggled to gain ground on the colossal traffic jam.
Drivers were frustrated they were let on the road at all. State police did not close all the entrance ramps to I-78 until around 5 p.m. Thursday, more than 24 hours after cars and trucks starting getting caught.
"Why would they have that exit open if they were just going to let us sit there?" said a crying Deborah Miller. Her 5-year-old son was trapped in the car with her, running a 103-degree fever from strep throat.
Transportation spokesman Sean Brown said he could not say when the roads would reopen.
The sprawling storm system hit Wednesday and blew out to sea Thursday, leaving huge snow piles, frigid temperatures and tens of thousands without power across the Midwest and Northeast.
In Maryland, BGE utility officials said it could be late Friday before power is restored to everyone. The worst outages were in Anne Arundel County, with 22,000 without power, and in Prince George County, where 7,700 were without power.
More than 137,000 customers had lost power at the height of the storm.
Numerous areas saw more than a foot of snow, with 42 inches falling in the southern Adirondacks in New York. Gusty wind had morning wind chills below zero, and in some areas, the snow was followed by several inches of ice.
A few flights were canceled Thursday after numerous cancelations Wednesday, and many school districts that had canceled classes Wednesday extended the unplanned vacation by an extra day.
"This storm was rare because of the unusual amount of snow and ice," Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Allen D. Biehler said. "This series of accidents that blocked our way made it really, really difficult."
Eugene Coleman, who is hyperglycemic, was trapped for 20 hours while on his way home to Hartford, Conn., from visiting his terminally ill mother in Georgia, along with his girlfriend and pregnant daughter.
"How could you operate a state like this? It's totally disgusting," Coleman said.