Bitter Cold Lingers As Storm Moves To Canada, Strands Hundreds

by
staphni
"(CNN)
Canadian police and military teams were working Tuesday afternoon to rescue about 300 people stranded after what a local official termed the most brutal storm to hit the Ontario region in 25 years.

Some people had been stuck in their vehicles for more than 24 hours following blinding snow that piled up so high it made it almost impossible to open vehicle doors.

""You really felt almost despair,"" said Brandon Junkin, who spent nearly 24 hours stranded before being rescued Tuesday afternoon after he heard a helicopter hovering over his immobilized truck. He had run out of gas and was without anything other than a blanket to help him through the ordeal.

Ontario Provincial Police initially reported about 360 vehicles and about 300 people had been stranded near Sarnia, Ontario, on Highway 402 -- a major thoroughfare linking the U.S.-Canada border to London, Ontario.Some of those people have since been rescued, but Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said it could be 24 hours before everyone is taken to safety.

The Canadian military assigned a CC-130 Hercules airplane and two CH-146 Griffons helicopters to the search and rescue effort, which also includes snowmobiles and four-wheel-drive vehicles from the provincial police.

Bradley said truckers stranded by the storm have invited some motorists to shelter with them in their rigs, and nearby residents have also opened their homes to stranded motorists.

He reiterated police warnings not to travel through the region. "