New York Gov. Hugh L. Carey declared a "limited state of emergency" this morning when 5,000 people were stranded in a snowy satellite parking lot in Keane, 14 miles from the warmth of the Olympic flame.
"The state of emergency does not mean there is danger to life and limb," said Howard Clark, spokesman for the state Olympic Task Force.
But late this afternoon, four ambulances were sent to Mount Van Hoevenberg, where 3,000 people waited for buses after the huge event.
"We did have some hypothermia (exposure) cases," said Sgt. Glen Held of the Command Control Center of the New York State Police.
"To the best of my knowledge, there were four cases."
Hundreds of spectators were lined up for 400 yards in front of the Olympic Center waiting to catch buses back to the satellite parking lot in Marcy tonight. Those at the head of the line said they had been waiting for 1 1/2 hours.
"They say the New York City subways are the pits," said Mrs. James Taylor of Rochelle Park, N.J. "Well they're great compared to this. This is an outrage."
The three lines for different destinations stretched across the dimly-lit parking lot. One went back at least 300 feet. Taylor stood hugging her 7-year-old grandson, whom she said "had turned into a block of wood."
"This is a travesty," said one man. "We drove up from Connecticut, but so far we've spent 70 percent of our day waiting in line. We got to a hockey game, but only saw an hour of that because we were late."
Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee officials said Friday the addition of 33 Greyhound buses and a Greyhound management team would solve the transportation problems that have caused delays all week.
Asked if the bus system was working tonight, Sgt. Held said, "No."
The Olympic Task Force at Gov. Carey's direction, added another 43 buses to the fleet, bringing the total to approximately 343.
Clark said the state of emergency "authorizes the Department of Transportation to contract directly for buses without bidding, which means we can bring in additional buses within hours, not days." It also allows the state to "waive the rules prohibiting bus drivers from working more than 14 hours a day and lets public equipment like snowplows go on private land.
The Olympic task force also moved the checkpoint, in Keene, 14 miles south of Lake Placid to a point 30 miles outside Lake Placid in an effort to control the holiday weekend traffic heading into the area.
Despite these measures, Clark admitted, "we're going to have more problems tomorrow. A lot of events are sold out, and a lot of events are going on at the same time."
Held said state police anticipated the biggest problem would be at the ski jump area, where about 16,000 spectators are expected.
One young boy attending downhill practice runs today wore only tennis shoes to walk in line in the nine inches of snow and had to be treated by doctors.
Ed Lewi, spokesman for the LPOOC, said yesterday "With the state input, and Greyhound input, I really thought we were on our way."
But Clark said, "There were some unanticipated problems that popped up."
Part of the problem, he said, was that tour operators who were unable to sell their packages have peddled their tickets singly and without transportation, in violation of their agreement with the LPOOC.
Another state employee working in the area was more blunt. "They've really screwed it up, the LPOOC," he said.