Parts of Western New York have experienced an epic snowstorm this week. At the beginning of the storm, my daughter was in awe of how quickly the snow was falling. She said, “I like snow; I just didn’t expect to get it all at once,” and we chuckled. Now it’s the end of the week, and we aren’t chuckling anymore. Her words have proven prophetic: over the course of a few days, part of the city and many suburbs have received an entire winter’s worth of snow.
This storm has caused so much destruction. As of this writing, there have been 13 deaths. Roofs are beginning to collapse, and a nursing home had to be evacuated because the roof was weakened by the weight of the snow. Impassable streets have made it impossible for ambulances and fire trucks to reach people in need of medical attention. People trapped in their homes for days are running low on groceries and other necessities. Meals on Wheels had to suspend meal delivery. Numerous motorists were stranded on the thruway.
Municipal budgets are taking a tremendous hit, and schools are being forced to use way too many snow days, especially considering that we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet. The list of problems goes on and on, and there’s another big one on the horizon: it’s supposed to get very warm this weekend, so the potential for flooding is huge.
In the middle of all this, there have been so many bright spots. Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors. Throughout my life, I’ve seen Buffalonians live up to that name over and over, but especially in times like this. People are looking for ways to help each other out, cheer each other up, and just get through this. I’ve seen and heard so many wonderful stories this week, and each one makes me proud to call this community my home.
*Neighbors have been reaching out to help each other shovel out, clear heating vents, and share their remaining groceries.
*People have been using social media to post about people who need help, share storm updates, and keep in touch with family and friends.
*Ambulances can’t get down many roads, so firefighters have carried patients on stretchers to main roads or even all the way to the hospital.
*When a woman in labor couldn’t get to the hospital, she delivered her baby at a firehouse where firefighters and two nurses worked together to help her.
*When a young mother ran out of the special formula she needed to feed her baby, she mentioned it on Facebook. Her friend, a firefighter, walked to the store to get the formula and then walked to deliver it.
*When a young man was stuck at work for an extended period of time, a local couple invited him into their home to warm up and enjoy a hot meal; when he was done, they drove him on a snowmobile to his destination.
*Firefighters, police officers, and volunteers used snowmobiles and other vehicles to deliver medication and other necessities to people stranded in their homes.
*Pharmacies have opened up to fill prescriptions so people (regular customers or not) wouldn’t have to go without their medications.
*People have organized a “shovel mob” to help their fellow Buffalonians shovel out.
*An Upstate Farms milk truck passed a man walking home from a store. The driver stopped to ask if the store had milk; when the man said the store was out of it, the driver gave him two bottles of milk.
*Despite all the snow, destruction, and cabin fever, people are still being kind to each other and finding ways to help each other.
When people talk about the snow in Buffalo, they chuckle, or even laugh out loud. I’ve heard comments this week: “I’m so glad I don’t live in Buffalo!” and “I could never live with all that snow.” I’m sure this week will cement our reputation as the snow capital of the world, so these comments will become even more common. (How come our glorious summers never make the news?!)
But. This snowy city is an amazing place to live. The people make it so easy to live here. This week, my daughter learned that it’s possible to get a whole winter’s worth of snow in one week, but she also learned – again – how wonderful Western New Yorkers can be.