When Angela Madsen was pulled off her plane and her wheelchair stayed on board, she knew she was in for a rough night. The paraplegic athlete struggled to get into the bathrooms at Kennedy Airport. Turning the wheels on her borrowed wheelchair strained her shoulders. Sleeping was impossible.
"I actually got out of it and laid on the floor," Madsen said.
It was, she said, a miserable time - one that was shared by millions of people on Monday, in travails big and small, serious and surreal, after the blizzard of December 2010 sucker-punched the northeastern U.S. during one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Air travel in the nation's busiest, most crowded airspace nearly shut down, and thousands of stranded passengers turned terminals into open-air hotels while they waited for planes to take off and land on plowed runways.
A tractor-trailer skidded off a road and smashed into a house in Maine. A woman went into labor on a New Jersey highway, causing a traffic jam that stranded 30 vehicles. Rails on the normally reliable New York subway shorted out. Winds topping 65 mph ripped power lines, leaving tens of thousands of people in the dark across New England.