When Nancy Inzalaco caught the first glimpse of her 10-year-old son late Saturday afternoon, she dropped the shovel in her hands and waded to him through waist-deep snow outside their Rocky Point home.
"I grabbed him really tight and I just held him a bit," the relieved mother said. "I gave him a hundred kisses and made sure he had all his limbs."
It was the first time she had seen her son, Christopher Cobian, since she dropped him off at school Friday morning. Like scores of other Long Islanders, Inzalaco had gotten stuck on snow-clogged roads during her commute home Friday afternoon.
Christopher, after getting home from school Friday, ended up spending the long night and most of Saturday alone, as his mother, father, and other relatives and friends frantically tried to reach him, calling police, taxis and towing companies.
But Rocky Point may as well have been Mars. They had to make do with repeated cellphone calls. The police at one point told her that someone else had called about the situation and that they would try to send someone to the area, she said.
Inzalaco set out on her hellish commute at about 4 p.m. from Bay Shore. Her car got stuck several times on her way home, the last time on Middle Country Road near the Middle Island and Ridge border around 8:30 p.m. She said her car, along with about 10 others, couldn't move and were blocking the road.
She called Christopher repeatedly. Before she got stuck, she said, she was telling him that it was going to be a long ride and to make sure the doors of the house were locked.
"He asked me to stop and get McDonalds," she said. "He didn't understand the scope of what was happening."
After her car got stuck, she told him she was going to be home "much, much later." At 10 p.m., she called and said that he probably was going to have to put himself to sleep -- suggesting that he leave his light on and keep the phone near his pillow. Unaccustomed to being alone, he cried, she said.
Christopher, sitting next to his mother, said he had thought he might have to spend another night alone on Saturday. "I was sad that she wasn't going to be home," he said.
Inzalaco, the ordeal over, was filled with gratitude.
"These people literally put their lives in danger to help me," she said. "I don't know how to thank them."