REPORTS FROM STORM “KNIFE” IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK
November 17 to November 21, 2014
In 1977 my sister Lee was driving in Alden, New York, when the Blizzard of 1977 began. When she could drive no longer she parked her car on what she hoped was the side of the road. She, her 5-year-old son Todd and her 10-year-old daughter Deb exited the car and proceeded to the distant lights of a farmhouse.
Almost immediately she lost Todd in a snow drift. She frantically dug into the snow and finally managed to uncover him. Frightened, the three headed towards lights in the distance, never realizing they passed another closer house on the way. The owners let them in and cared for them while the blizzard blew wild outside.
Fast forward to Monday, November 17, 2014.
Lee is now a senior citizen experiencing health problems. Her daughter lives in a trailer with her husband, Tom, and 3 children: 7-year old, 5-year old, and a 6-week old baby. Kirsten could only open her door slightly open. The snow is falling. Fast.
Below are conversations I had with her, Kirsten, my long-time friend Pat, my sister Sally and sister-in-law Marge.
Tuesday. November 18.
Lee. 10:00 a. m. While Monte and I drove to a doctor’s appointment I called Lee. She was snowed in.
“It’s sunny here, blue skies with cottony white clouds. We’re driving through shadows,” I told her.
She said the snow was halfway up her back sliding door and front door. She could not open either door. She was a prisoner in her own home.
Shoveling snow off roof. Photo by Kirsten
Wednesday, November 19
Lee, 5:00 p.m.: It’s a mess. A high-lift plowed the street, leaving a snow bank at the end of the sidewalk. Now I can’t even see the road.
I learned that if it isn’t a medical emergency, but only a medical necessity, emergency services would take a person to the hospital but not return them home.
A 46-year-old man was found dead inside his car buried under 15 feet of snow in Alden.
Pat. Evening I’m still trying to unbury our car. There’s 4-feet of snow on top of it, it’s been horrible. There’s still a driving ban, probably into tomorrow.
At 6:00 they opened one narrow lane on our street
There’s 4 feet of packed snow on our driveway. It’s supposed to rain Saturday, adding more weight. It’s so hard to shovel out: a snow drift is probably 7 foot high. We can’t see our 4-foot fence in the back yard.
Sally: She was outside shoveling snow out of the way to lower the piles so her husband Craig could use the snowblower on their driveway.
Photo by Pat
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.
Lee: It’s not snowing now, it’s moved to the more southern tier. In this area it’s clear.
There are big hay-loaders (large tractors) shoveling the snow out of the road, but they didn’t take out the cars—OMG—I can’t see the car. There’s just a hump out there. It’s snow on the cars.
You should see the pile of snow on the road. A hay loader is dumping the snow into yards, It’s piled up to the second floor window. Everyone is warned to have their roofs cleared off. I hope they are going to clean ours.
Two people died last night (it turns out only one did) when being moved from a nursing home where the roof was expected to collapse. My friend’s mother is in that nursing home, when I heard a patient 92-years old died I thought it was her, but it wasn’t. I hope they clean the snow off the roof here. There are warnings to clean the snow off the roofs.
I saw it on TV on the thruway, now I can see it in my backyard. I saw a man older than I am and he was shoveling. Only one man. He’s the only one shoveling. I asked if he was going to shovel my place. He said no, he had too much to do. Our brother wanted to come and help, but there is a travel ban.
They sent one man to shovel. An ambulance and cop car just came in. I think they’re taking someone out. 13 people have died now.
Kirsten wanted to come over to stay, but there is a travel ban. And there is no place for her to park her car.
Roofs are collapsing all over the place.
Kirsten. 8:00 p. m. Tom shoveled so she could walk to the end of her sidewalk. We’re supposed to get 2-4 more feet of snow, Mom (Lee) got slightly more. We got 78 inches, Mom, 84 inches, according to TV report. Yesterday Tom shoveled.
Pat. My car is encased in 4 feet of snow, my roof has 4-5 feet of snow on it. I dug through a minimum of 4 feet of snow in her driveway, but couldn’t do more. I couldn’t get to her street until today. Neighbors came to help, had a roof rake to get snow off the car roof. My right arm is (so sore). When shoveling the pile kept getting higher so I had to work harder to toss snow over it.
Snow is being taken to the Old Train Station (terminal) on Broadway and Memorial Drive.
Two older persons came to help me unbury my car. We worked from about 9:00 a. m. to 2:00 p. m. with only about an hour and a half break. We are all old people.
Being a real estate agent I had a client wanting me to show a house in Utica. I told him my car was encased in snow and he didn’t seem to believe me.
Saturday November 22, 2014
Lee 2:30 p. m. I saw the lady from the end apartment in my building having her car pulled out. I asked the man doing it if he could free my car. It took the three of them a half hour. I don’t know how they did it. There is a tight narrow squeeze to get to my car, which looks great. It is running, too. I tried to give him $20.00 but he refused the money.
It’s warmer, the temperature is up, it’s less breezy, and the snow is melting,
Kirsten is coming here for the night. Her trailer roof is crackling from the weight of the snow.
While outside Lee admired the beauty. “Leaves from the trees are all over the ground. It’s like an angel came down and scattered the leaves all over. The snow is dusted with them. Like scattered rose petals only they are not round.”
3:45 p. m. Pat said there was heavy snow and slush, and it was starting to rain. “All I want to do is keep it clear (car and driveway).”
This storm was easier than the snow we had in October when there was no electricity.
3:45 p. m. My sister-in-law Marge, said her town, Edwards, New York, made the news. It got up to 30 inches of snow. From Edwards north to Canton got nothing, north is all OK. The south got it. For 2-3 days her driveway was blocked. “I didn’t want to get out anyway. (As for snow on my roof), it apparently blew off.”
November 23. Sunday
Lee. 6:00 p. m. A plow came in and scraped all the snow off my sidewalk (it’s a narrow walk, about 20 feet long). It’s 45 degrees today and the snow is half melted in the back yard where there has been no plowing. It’s supposed to be 60 degrees tomorrow.
It was a relief when my car was freed. I was afraid when I couldn’t get out.
Kirsten stayed here last night with the three children, and took the baby to the trailer to her husband today. Tom wouldn’t leave the trailer. He and Kirsten have a creek behind their trailer and it’s rising rapidly. Kirsten and the children will stay with Lee tonight. The travel ban is over during the day but not at night. It’s been a week. The blizzard of 1977 didn’t last this long.
8:00 p. m. Lee’s condo association called to say that last night a tractor hit a transformer, leaving 12 units without power. Therefore, they cannot do any plowing until the transformers are marked.
Kirsten 8:10 p. m. The transformers are big metal boxes in the ground. I saw them digging them out when I arrived at Mom’s last night.
They cancelled school again. I’ve never seen them cancel school for a week.
The creek behind our trailer hasn’t flooded in the past from heavy snow melts. They’re more worried about creeks with bridges where ice can jam.
News networks on Tuesday were referring to the brutal Lake Effect snow storm in Western New York as a “polar plunge.”
Pat: It’s just amazing. It was one city but two worlds, a tale of two cities. Residents in the north part of Buffalo went to a Sabers game, went to work. In the southern tier the Sabres were reimbursing tickets to encourage people not to drive to the game.
It was like there was a sharp line that divided the two parts of the city. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the storm cut like a knife “in the heart of Erie County.” It has been given the name “Knife”.
It was bizarre to explain to people who couldn’t perceive, believe, that snow kept coming, coming, and wouldn’t stop. That Rt. 400 and the Thruway were closed, but you could drive down Kensington Avenue.
It was not so desperate but it was overwhelming.