Hundreds of travelers found themselves stranded on interstates, side streets, rural roadways and highways in the Poconos on March 2, due to the powerful winter storm that hit the area, The Morning Call’s Nicole Radzievich reports. The situation became so dire, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf had to activate the National Guard.
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The Guardsmen assisted local and state agencies move the stranded vehicles off of the road. Meanwhile, state troopers supplied travelers with food and water. Meanwhile, Monroe County emergency workers brought snacks that Wal-Mart donated and gas for people who’d run out, according to Montgomery County Commissioner John Christy.
“You name a road in Monroe County and most likely there are stranded motorists,” Christy said on March 3. “People have worked tirelessly throughout the night, and we will continue until we get everyone out.”
Approximately two feet of snow fell in Tobyhanna, Coolbaugh Township and other highly elevated areas. The heavy winds pushed cars throughout the region and knocked down trees and wires. More than 600,000 Pennsylvania residents were without power, according to the Governor’s office. Many people affected were on the eastern side of Pennsylvania, where the American Red Cross opened shelters while communities created their own warming centers and charging stations.
Although state officials could not confirm exactly how many motorists were stranded in the area, hundreds registered for 511PAConnect. The system gives stranded motorists information and 200 of those registrations came form the closed portions of Interstate 80. No fatalities or injuries were reported in Monroe Count, according to Christy.
There were no known fatalities or injuries in Monroe County, Christy said.
The Gannon University men’s basketball team from Erie had to spend the evening Interstate 80. The team was headed to East Stroudsburg for a game against Shippensburg University.
“We sat on i80 all night and we are stuck again. Going on 17 hours on this bus,” a team member tweeted Saturday morning, shortly before the bus pulled into East Stroudsburg University.
All lanes remained closed on I-80 between exits 284, Blakeslee and 293, the interchange with Interstate 380 more than 24 hours after the storm hit the Poconos, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Traffic started to move on those sections the following afternoon along with parts of Interstates 84 and 380 that had been closed in Carbon and Monroe Counties, according to PennDOT spokesman Sean Brown.
Initially, crews attempted to open the roads sooner, but as vehicles became disabled, it was not possible, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a statement. Traffic was detoured to areas that were clear, according to Richards, but downed trees closed down a lot of those routes, too.
“We have moved resources from other areas, and we were facing the same challenging conditions that motorists faced throughout the storm,” Richards said.
“I want to thank all the first responders, plow drivers, utility workers, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency management officials that worked through the night and into this morning to respond to an unprecedented nor’easter with high winds and difficult conditions,” Wolf said.
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