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Storm strands LIers at Orlando airport

Melissa and Steve Gambardella of Bellmore and their

Melissa and Steve Gambardella of Bellmore and their sons, Nicholas, 9, and Christian, 6, at Orlando International Airport on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday / Beth Whitehouse

ORLANDO, Fla. — Wednesday’s snowstorm caused a different kind of havoc for travelers trying to fly into tristate airports.

When Melissa Gambardella, 40, of Bellmore, got an alert from JetBlue offering to reschedule her family’s Wednesday flight from Orlando, Florida, to JFK with no penalty due to the storm, she jumped at it. She didn’t want to gamble that her original flight might be canceled. Or, perhaps worse, that she would be stranded in the airport with her two children waiting out delays.

So Gambardella, a stay-at-home mom on vacation with her husband, Steve, and their sons, Nicholas, 9, and Christian, 6, opted for JetBlue Flight 490 at 10 a.m. Thursday. The hotel where they had been staying was sold out and they had to scramble to find other overnight lodging.

“My kids have severe food allergies, so that was hard for us,” Gambardella said while waiting for the flight to depart.

But they weren’t too upset about being stranded in Florida, where, in contrast to Long Island, Wednesday was sunny and clear. They played tennis and mini-golf. “It’s an extra day out of work,” said Steve Gambardella, an NYPD police sergeant. “Who wants to go home to the snow?”

Also rescheduled on JetBlue flight 490 was Alice Alexander, 77, who lives in Kissimmee, Florida. She was supposed to travel to East Meadow yesterday to visit her grandchildren.

“My granddaughter is having her tonsils out Monday and I’m coming up to be the nurse,” she said. Her original flight was canceled. She didn’t mind missing one day of her three-week trip, because there was some consolation. “I was warm,” she said.

Chris Lazo, 50, of Lake Ronkonkoma, was in Orlando on business. He was originally scheduled for JetBlue 490 but did worry that he wouldn’t get out.

“I thought I was going to wind up spending another night here,” he said. “I gotta get home to help my family dig out.”

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