Local marathon runners stranded

HURRICANE SANDY: Participants in Marine Corps Marathon trying to find flights home

Staff writerOctober 30, 2012 

Jessica Alley waits near the center of the storm, stranded.

“It’s really windy, really rainy,” she said Monday from the home of a friend in McLean, Va.

She’d like to be home at Joint Base Lewis-McChord – she expected to be home already – but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for her and millions of others on the Eastern Seaboard.

She needs to be home because her husband, Chaplain (Capt.) Will Alley, leaves within a few days for his third Middle East deployment.

She and several other South Sound volunteers from the support group Wear Blue: Run to Remember were in Washington, D.C., for Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon.

Then came the wind and rain.

“It’s been really frustrating,” Alley said. “The most frustrating is hearing the flight has been canceled, and you rebook. This is the fourth flight I’ve rebooked.”

She and members of the group planned to drive Monday from McLean to Fort Bragg, N.C., and then to Raleigh, where they had reservations on a flight to Seattle via Phoenix.

“I’m quite anxious to get back,” she said. “It’s been almost a week since I’ve been home. My husband is holding down the fort.”

It’s a fort that includes three children: daughter Carlee Scott, 6; son Owen, 4, and son Henry, 8 months.

Husband Will said Monday, “It’s given me a whole new perspective on what our military spouses go through during deployment. It’s been a learning experience.”

“It’s a tiny window that had given me a new respect,” he said. “We had grand plans for having just a fun weekend with Dad, and as soon as Jessica left, me and my daughter came down with head colds, and the weather was cold and rainy. That kind of changed our plans.

“Yesterday I was thinking that Jessica comes home tomorrow, and then I found out her flight was canceled. The kids miss their mom.”

Jessica said she believes she will return to celebrate Halloween and be with her husband before he leaves for Afghanistan.

“It’s going to happen,” she said. “We just have to stay positive.”

And so it goes for Chuck Johnson of Olympia, who ran in the marathon and who is likewise stranded in the storm.

He spent Monday with his wife, Toni, hunkered and bunkered inside a 14th-floor room at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in downtown Washington.

“The windows are rattling; it’s very gray,” said Johnson, a human resources recruiter with the state Department of Transportation.

“Metro, the trains and buses in D.C., are completely shut down,” he said. “It looks like Reagan National (Airport) is completely closed, Dulles also. No planes are anywhere to be found. There’s nobody in the streets.

“There are quite a few marathoners who are stuck here. We’re trying to make light of the situation, but people are nervous. Some people are pretty worried, but there is a sense of camaraderie.”

Although a local food court has closed, Johnson was able to get some supplies at a nearby drug store.

“We do have some cable channels, but everything has to do with the hurricane,” he said. “We have some books, we have the Internet, we’re OK.”

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535 c.r.roberts@ thenewstribune.com

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