The deadly winter storm that killed 17 US residents has also left thousands without power, which is unlikely to be restored until after the New Year. Many will be forced to endure freezing cold nights in states that hardly ever see snow.
In the southern state of Arkansas, 200,000 homes and businesses lost power as the storm left behind 15 inches of snow, damaged power lines and created icy roads. The utility company Entergy Arkansas said electricity would not be restored until the start of the new year, leaving many residents in the dark and in the cold. More than 135,000 homes and businesses have still not had their power restored.
Across the state, hotel rooms are full and people are sleeping in their cars to keep warm. Some Americans are running out of money from staying in hotels, while others are low on food supplies.
“I’m coping with hot toddies and peanuts,” Arkansas Resident Lynda Johnson told the Associated Press, while Deena Brazell told the news agency that she has been sleeping in her car at night.
“Everything in the apartment is electric. I stayed in the apartment the first night. After that, it got cold really quick,” she said. “I went out to charge the phone and fell asleep, then I just decided to stay.”
Snowfall is rare in Arkansas, which usually has a humid subtropical climate and sometimes experiences tornadoes in the winter. The state hasn’t had a white Christmas since 1926 and many residents have had no reason to prepare for winter weather. The state currently has more snow than many more northern regions like New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
Still, parts of the Northeast have also experienced storm-related fatalities and dangerous conditions. In Maryland, more than 7,000 homes and businesses lost power, while in New Jersey, there were 70 mph wind gusts and flood warnings. Further north in Vermont, there were approximately 800 power outages, while New Hampshire is expecting as much as 18 inches of snow.
Many of those without power are sleeping in cars, at the homes of friends or family, or in hotels, wishing they could be home on New Year’s Eve.
“You just want to be home,” Arkansas resident Kathy Garner told AP. “You just want to be in your own bed. There’s nothing like the comfort of your own home.”
But across the US, further winter storms are expected. In the coming days, the Northeast will expect several more inches of snow on Friday and Saturday, while freezing rain is expected to fall in Arkansas on Friday.