Residents recount harrowing drives, begin to feel cabin fever

Feb. 13, 2014 @ 05:07 PM

John Long is retired, but he had a big job on Thursday.

Long, 69, spent much of the morning removing snow and ice from his neighbors' cars and sidewalks at Forest Oaks townhomes off Morreene Road.

After about two hours, Long said his back hurt "a little," but he was pacing himself.
"I'm taking my time," Long said.
He and fellow church member Tony Stephenson cleared a path for elderly residents to prevent possible falls.
By afternoon, Long launched into the next phase of his Good Samaritan effort -- calling church members to make sure they were OK, and bringing them groceries and other supplies they might need.
Meanwhile, Long's sister, Jo Ellis, was spending the day baking pound cakes.
"I always keep them on hand to share," she said.
The day before, she and Long had taken a drive into the country to enjoy watching the snowfall before it became a problem.
"We left at 1 p.m. when there was just fine snow," she said. "When we got back to Morreene Road, it was blocked with cars near McMannen church, and after another 90 minutes it was almost impassable."
For Bryan Howell, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Duke University, a few minutes Wednesday made the difference between inconvenience and a nightmare on his drive back to his home in Cary.
He left Duke at 12:30 p.m. and got on the Durham Freeway.
"Things didn't get bad until I hit 540, going west, when the snow started to fall heavily," he said. "Everything was white, so it was difficult to discern familiar exits."
Howell was also having trouble getting traction on hills, and saw drivers abandon their vehicles.
"I almost abandoned mine on O'Kelly Road (right off 55), because I had almost zero traction," he said. "Thankfully, I had manual [drive], so I just stuck it in second gear and moved at a snail's pace."
He made it home in 40 minutes, but his adviser, who left Duke just 15 minutes later than Howell, wasn't as lucky. He got stuck on U.S. 15-501 for nearly five hours.
Anthony Hodges works for PNC Arena in Raleigh, and said it took him about two hours to get from work to his apartment right off Interstate 40 on Old Page Road Wednesday during the snow. Busy cleaning ice off his car, Hodges said cabin fever was setting in Thursday.
"I can't stay in the house," he said. "I have to get out. This is driving me absolutely nuts. I just have to keep busy."
Vanessa Clark works for Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) and was busy cleaning off her car with the help of a defroster so she could get to work Thursday morning.
"I was at work when it started and thought I could make it home to get some clothes and get back before it got worse, but I couldn't," Clark said.
Clark said she was heading in as early as possible so she could cover shifts of those who couldn't make it in. She said that this time she had clothes already packed and in her car.
In Orange County, dairy cows that normally graze in the fields along Vernon Road were in open, enclosed areas, where they ate hay.
Anthony Foster and his wife, Traci Foster, were getting ready to take their children sledding near their house. The snow had made the children stir crazy, Traci Foster said. While U.S. 70 and state road 119 in Mebane were clear, roads to the south of Interstate 85 were tricky, Anthony Foster said.
Diane Williams and her son Landon and daughters Teagan and Emory had been out sledding all morning in the area near Oak Grove Baptist Church. As the snow fell, they made their way home to eat lunch, and enjoy the warmth of home.