OC student trapped in car for 13 hours during Storm Jonas

Storm Jonas whites-out Times Square in New York City.
Online photo

Storm Jonas whites-out Times Square in New York City. Online photo

Storm Jonas left states and commonwealths from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England fighting harsh storm conditions.

“A blizzard can be frustrating,” junior Natalie Yeats, a Connecticut resident, said. “People get tired of being locked inside and as nice as it is to get a little snow, we can get tired of having it around.”

Storm Jonas dropped snow throughout 26 states and covered a total of 434,000 square miles. The snowfall ranged from dusting to 42 inches reported in Glengary, West Virginia.

According to the Associated Press, officials in New York City ordered a travel ban to remove all nonemergency vehicles off the roads as conditions worsened. Public transport such as commuter rails, above-ground subways and buses were forced to shut down. Airlines cancelled thousands of flights for the January 22-24 weekend due to the weather.

Among the travelers stranded because of the weather conditions was Oklahoma Christian University freshman Abby Caviness. Caviness and her family were in Harrisburg for a funeral preceding Storm Jonas’ arrival.

“On the plane, people were talking about the weather,” Caviness said. “We said we were flying home on Saturday, the 23rd, and people said good luck with that because you’re probably not going to get there because the weather’s going to be really bad.”

Caviness and her family were on the road when road conditions worsened. In an hour’s time she said they moved about 20 feet. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation personnel came by and asked them to move their vehicle to the left lane so that plows and emergency vehicles could get through.

“I was doing homework and not paying attention. Then, I looked at the map on my phone and in two hours we’d only gotten a fourth of the way to Pittsburgh,”Caviness said. “People kept coming by and saying three more hours and then four hours later, they would come by and say okay three more hours, but nothing changed.”

The Caviness family, consisting of nine members ranging from ages eight to eighty, remained in the same spot for 13 hours. In the morning, a plow cleared enough snow that they were able to make it to the nearby town of Bedford, Pennsylvania where Caviness’s family remained until Monday when they travelled to Pittsburg for a flight home.

“Weather disasters like this don’t typically do as much damage but it does disrupt people’s lives,” Charles Rix, interim dean of the College of Bible Studies at Oklahoma Christian, said.

Storm Jonas affected 102.8 million people. The storm caused 250,000,000 power outages and an estimated 50 fatalities from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia. Washington D.C. and New York City, the nation’s capital and biggest city, shut down during the blizzard.

Furthermore, Jonas is predicted to have an economic impact of $850 million due to the closing of businesses in the affected region­, according to CBS News.

“Occasionally, there will be a bad snow storm that keeps people in their houses for a few days at a time and that gets tiring,” Yeats said. “People begin to get cabin fever and they take chances of going out on the roads when they shouldn’t. This is dangerous because it leads to potential car crashes due to cars sliding around on the roads.”

The New York Police Department reported 401 accidents and the towing of 367 vehicles by early Sunday morning.

“Do what you can to help,” Rix said. “It goes a long way just for people to be mindful.”

Relief organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, hospitals and shelters in the affected areas provide students with opportunities to help these states recover from Storm Jonas through the form of contributions and donations

“With any big weather event, the thing that I always thought of was how powerful God is through nature,” Rix said. “It’s a humbling experience to just be paralyzed by. It’s something you can always learn from.”

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