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  • Delaney Hayden

The City of Good Neighbors Tackles Snow in Buffalo

By Delaney Hayden, News Reporter

Just about two weeks ago, on Friday, Nov. 18 in Buffalo and surrounding areas, a historic lake-effect snowstorm dumped over 80 inches (or six-and-a-half feet) of snow over the course of four days. On Wednesday, Nov. 16, Governor Kathy Hochul announced her plans to issue a state of emergency on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 17, in preparation for the snowstorm. Beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday, all commercial traffic on the New York State thruway was banned from the Rochester exit to the Ripley-Shortman Road exit.

11 counties went under a state of emergency on Friday as an intense snow band drifted into the area. A “code blue” was issued for both the city of Buffalo and southern Erie County. A code blue is issued when the outside temperatures with wind chill drop, and the homeless are urged to seek emergency shelter. The most snow from the storm was found and measured in Hamburg, New York at 81.2 inches. Around Hamburg and Orchard Park, a new 24-hour state record was set, with 60 inches falling between Thursday night and Friday night alone. After the storm subsided, sadly four were left dead, but as the temperatures and the snow both continued to fall, Western New York jumped into action to prevent even more loss.

The snow brought several losses to the Buffalo region, but also offered the community an opportunity to come together. While travel bans were put into place, roads were slick and covered with snow, classes were canceled, schools were closed and the Bills game against the Cleveland Browns was moved to Detroit. Buffalo, though, sometimes termed the “city of good neighbors,” came to life and lifted its community up over the 80-plus inches of frozen white powder. After nearly 400 citations were issued to drivers who violated the travel bans in the region, the New York State thruway authority tweeted a hopeful message to people in need of traveling places. They shared, “Crews are out this morning on the Niagara Thruway (I-190) removing #snow from the shoulders. We have large snowblowers like this working around the clock to clear snow. Please use caution if you are traveling today. The Thruway has reopened to all traffic.”

Just as the thruway authority sprang into action to clear the roads, some other good neighbors in Buffalo used their own machinery to help clear the driveways of Buffalo Bills players so they could make it to their game that had been moved to Detroit. Fans cleared the way for tight ends Dawson Knox, Tommy Sweeny and Quinten Morris, as well as backup quarterback Case Keenum, just to name a few. The players expressed gratitude over social media for the selfless work of their good neighbors that allowed them to defeat the Browns in Detroit on Sunday. Coincidentally, the storm hit nearly on the exact same day as another major snowstorm hit in 2014, a storm that also forced the Bills to relocate to Detroit, where they went on to defeat the New York Jets.

Good neighbors did not just come out to help the Buffalo Bills get to a warmer and less snowy stadium, but also helped others escape the cold and snow as well. Several warming shelters were set up in Buffalo for those without access to a heater. These shelters allowed people a chance to stop at a shelter to warm up, charge their devices and have access to snacks as well. The Western New York Coalition for the Homeless opened multiple overnight shelters around Buffalo: these shelters included Holy Cross on Niagara Street, a women’s shelter on Genesee Street (which opened to anyone during the code blue) and ROC Code Blue Transitional Housing. All of these shelters welcomed anyone without heat or power, as well as those in need of shelter from the storm.

The snow hit hard, broke records and caused mayhem, but Buffalo tackled it head on and bounced back. Good neighbors did good deeds for one another and responded quickly, cautiously and together as a community to the frigid, frozen, fluffy, flustering chaos called snow.

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